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Approval by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is considered a formality.

EC APPROVES SONY/ATV-EMI MUSIC

European Commission Clears Deal, IMPALA Voices Objection
One down, one to go.

The European Commission officially approved Sony and Mubadala’s acquisition of EMI Music Publishing today, which means Sony/ATV boss Marty Bandier can light up a victory cigar, Red Auerbach style, as he gets back the pubbery he initially built. Approval by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is considered a formality.

Up next will be the conclusion of Phase II of its investigation into UMG’s purchase of EMI’s recorded music holdings.

The Sony-EMI decision is “conditional upon the divestiture of the worldwide publishing rights to four catalogs and the musical works of 12 contemporary authors,” after which the Commission concluded “the transaction would not raise competition concerns.”  

Not everyone agrees.

IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith called the approval “bad news for Europe's publishers and writers, as well as for collecting societies and any label or online service which needs to be able to rely on fair terms to use music,” pointing to the announcement of expected job losses at the combined company.  “We remain convinced that the impact of this merger on the livelihood of authors has been underestimated, while the ability of the remedies to secure future competition has been overestimated."

EC VP in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: "Sony and Mubadala have offered to divest valuable and attractive catalogs containing best-selling titles as well as works of successful and promising authors. I am therefore satisfied that the competitive dynamics in the online music publishing business will be maintained so as to ensure consumer choice and cultural diversity."

The new company has agreed to sell off worldwide rights to four catalogs—Virgin UK, Virgin Europe, Virgin US and Famous Music UK—which include leading writers such as Gary Barlow, Ozzy Osbourne, Robbie Williams, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Placebo and The Kooks. They have also promised to divest available recent and future musical works of 12 contemporary Anglo-American authors, some of whom are still under contracts.

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