Sony Gets Go-Ahead On EMI Deal

The European Union has given a Sony-led consortium the go-ahead to buy EMI Music Publishing for $2.2 billion.

The European competition regulators approved the deal after the consortium offered to sell the rights to four back catalogues.

They’re Virgin UK, Virgin Europe, Virgin U.S. and Famous Music UK, which include the work of writers including Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, Placebo, Lenny Kravitz, Ozzy Osbourne, Ben Harper, and The Kooks.

The Sony consortium, which is said to include the estate of Michael Jackson, Blackstone Group, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co., Raine Group and music and film mogul David Geffen, may get as much as euro 25 million ($32.8 million) for them.

BMG Rights Management will likely be among the bidders for the back catalogue.

European commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the offer to let go of some “valuable and attractive catalogues containing bestselling titles” was enough to satisfy the EC that the competitive dynamics in the music publishing business will be maintained.

The EC’s initial investigation concluded that the deal was not conducive to fair competition, but since then Sony and its partners have apparently agreed to even more divestments.

EC approval is hardly likely to be the end of the matter as IMPALA, the European independent music companies’ organisation, could be among those who may appeal the ruling.