Sony’s EMI Bid Approved

SSony and Mubadala’s acquisition of EMI Music Publishing has been approved by the European Commission (EC) after nearly two months of review by the regulator.

The EC approved the $2.2bn move for joint control of the music publishing business of EMI group under the EU Merger Regulation.

After an initial investigation, the EC found that the merger could pose a threat to online licensing of copyrights within the European Economic Area. However, both Sony and Mubadala will divest worldwide rights to various musical works. Some of the rights to be divested include works by artists such as Ozzy Osbourne, Lenny Kravitz and Placebo.

JoaquĆ­n Almunia, the Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy, said, “Sony and Mubadala have offered to divest valuable and attractive catalogues containing bestselling 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.”

According to the Commission, Anglo-American chart hits are an indispensable part of any online platform offering to consumers. After the acquisition, Sony and Mubadala could have owned the publishing rights in more than half of chart hits in the UK and Ireland. The Commission found that such a level of market power could affect customers’ ability to license music not only in these countries but also across Europe and the world.

The $2.2bn acquisition has attracted criticism from the likes of Warner Music and a host of independent record labels and artists, but the EC has concluded that, as a result of the planned divestments, the acquisition will not seriously impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The approval of the acquisition comes after widespread reports yesterday that the Commission would give Sony and Mubadala the green light.

Samuel Agini is the Editor of Andrew Apanov’s Dotted Music.