Monti and his team decided together that there was not "sufficient evidence" to oppose the merger, the sources said.

EU SAYS YES TO SONY-BMG AXIS

AP Reports Merger is Approved by EU, Will Be Announced Tomorrow
Meet the new Axis.

AP is reporting European Union antitrust chief Mario Monti has decided to approve a merger between Sony Music and Bertelsmann AG's BMG music businesses after deciding it didn't have enough evidence of potential harm to consumers to block the deal, sources familiar with the case said Thursday.

The decision came after two days of closed-door hearings this week at which the companies faced off against competitors and the EU antitrust team, according to sources.

The deal would leave four music industry "majors" controlling about 80% of the market.

But Monti and his team decided together that there was not "sufficient evidence" to oppose the merger, the sources said.

An official announcement is expected Friday, the sources said.

In a sealed statement of objections sent last month, the European Commission expressed fears the deal could exacerbate "tacit collusion" in the industry, leading to higher CD prices and less choice for consumers in a market where there is already too little competition.

The commission also voiced concerns about the impact of the deal on the emerging market for online music and devices in Europe, according to those familiar it.

Many independent music labels urged the commission to block the deal, but the companies presented their own economic evidence challenging then commission's assessment of the market.

The deal still faces an antitrust review in the United States.

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