Bronfman Blasts EMI, UMG Merger

Outgoing Warner Music chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. says the proposed purchase of British recording company EMI by recording rivals Universal Music Group and Sony/ATV is “dangerous” and must be stopped by regulators.

Bronfman told a technology conference Tuesday that the combination of EMI’s recorded music division with Universal’s and the merge of its publishing unit with Sony/ATV’s would create overly dominant global players that could harm new digital music platforms and crimp payments to artists.

Universal’s share of the global market for recorded music would pass 40 percent, putting too much power under one roof, he said.

“I think it’s dangerous, I think it’s problematic, and I think it’s got to be stopped,” he said at the “D: Dive Into Media” conference. “Warner is going to fight this tooth and nail and I hope others would join us.”

Vivendi’s Universal and Sony Music’s Sony/ATV announced in November that they would split EMI in two and purchase the parts for $4.1 billion combined. Citigroup was selling the iconic British recording company of The Beatles after it foreclosed on its previous owner, private equity firm Terra Firma.

The deal has yet to be approved by antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe.

Tuesday marked the last day for Bronfman as chairman of Warner Music, a transitional role for the former CEO after Warner was taken private in July for $1.24 billion by billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries. Bronfman will remain on the Warner Music board of directors.