EMI Speculation Switches To Parlophone

Financial media have begun speculating that Universal will sell off Parlophone as part of a plan to appease regulators regarding its takeover of EMI’s recorded music business.

The Financial Times and New York Times both reported Universal is already in talks with BMG Rights Management over the sale of Parlophone, which has acts including Kylie Minogue, Coldplay, Blur, Gorillaz and Tinie Tempah.

It also has heritage acts such as The Beatles, but most reports say the Fab Four’s catalogue would be excluded from the deal.

The U.S. and UK media had previously reported Chrysalis, Mute or even Virgin could be among the labels Universal would put up for sale, but disposing of Parlophone is a far bigger concession than any of them.

Whether it would be enough to swing the deal is a matter for the European Commission, but it’s a major step further and shows Universal’s desperation to get the business done. It’s agreed to pay EMI owner Cititgroup the $1.9 billion needed to complete the deal in September, regardless of whether it has regulatory approval.

Universal submitted its final offer of remedies to the EC July 27.

The Vivendi-owned company then released a statement that said: “We believe the package fully addresses the commission’s concerns and follows our constructive discussions with regulators, independent labels and competitors. We look forward to working further with the commission and are confident of receiving clearance.”

Now they’ll be circulated to industry competitors for “market testing,” giving the deal’s opponents to say if the sale of Parlophone would be enough to satisfy their objections.

The EC then has until Sept. 27 to make a decision, having extended the previous deadline of Sept. 6. Whatever the EC decides, it’s likely the losing side would immediately launch an appeal.