The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority has provisionally cleared the way for Sony Music Entertainment to acquire AWAL and its neighboring-rights business.

The CMA has provisionally concluded that the deal does not substantially reduce competition in the U.K. and is not expected to do so in the future.

Sony Music Entertainment issued a statement saying, "We welcome the CMA’s provisional determination that its acquisition of AWAL raises no competition concerns and, in doing so, its recognition of the competitive and dynamic nature of the U.K. music market. Our investment in AWAL will deliver real benefits for artists and consumers amidst intense competition at every level of the music industry. We look forward to continuing to work with the CMA throughout the final stages of their review.”

Said Margot Daly, chair of the independent CMA Inquiry Group: “Our provisional finding is that the deal is not likely to affect competition in a way that will reduce the choice or quality of recorded music available or increase prices. We think that a combination of other major labels and independent providers will continue to closely rival Sony, so our provisional decision is to clear the merger.”

The merger will now undergo an in-depth Phase 2 inquiry. The CMA is asking for comments on the provisional findings by 3/4. The statutory deadline for the CMA’s final report is 3/17.