EC Clears EMI Takeover

EU regulators cleared private equity group Terra Firma Capital Partners’ $4.8 billion takeover bid for EMI Group on Wednesday, though shareholders of the music company were still holding out for a counterbid from Warner.

The European Commission approved the deal after identifying no antitrust issues and receiving no complaints from rivals within a deadline of 25 working days.

Terra Firma extended its 3.55 billion euro (2.4 billion pound) offer for EMI Group PLC, home to The Beatles and Coldplay, for a second time last week, saying it had won over 3.56 percent of EMI’s issued share capital.

The EMI board recommended in May that its shareholders accept the Terra Firma offer, made through its takeover vehicle, but many stockholders are waiting to see if rival Warner will come forward with an offer.

Warner Music Group said last month that it was considering another offer to purchase EMI. Warner Music and EMI have been in on-and-off buyout discussions over the past seven years, but repeated talks have been stymied on several occasions by regulatory uncertainty and the inability to agree on a price.

Music companies have been looking to consolidate as the market for CDs declines rapidly, but risk trouble with regulators as the number of major players shrinks.

In May, the EU’s antitrust authority allowed Universal Music Group to buy BMG Music Publishing after the companies agreed to sell off publishing rights to some hits from the 1980s and 1990s.

The Commission is still re-examining a buyout deal between Sony and BMG’s music units more than two years ago after a court said the first regulatory clearance had not gone far enough to rule out a monopoly.