OFT clears Universal's Sanctuary deal


LONDON -- The U.K.'s Office of Fair Trading has cleared Universal Music Group's acquisition of the financially troubled Sanctuary Group.

The clearance comes after Centenary Music Holdings, UMG's bid vehicle, made a June 15 cash bid for 20 pence ($0.41) a share. This values Sanctuary at £44.5 million ($91.2 million).

Sanctuary's share on the London Stock Exchange jumped slightly to 19.75 pence ($0.40) following the news.

The U.K. trading regulatory body's approval comes after clearances by anti-trust authorities in Germany, Spain, Australia and the United States.

Consequently, there is no regulatory obstacle to the transaction.

By July 13, Centenary had received 30.88% of Sanctuary's total shares. The offer remains open for total acceptance until July 26.

Universal Music Group says it has no comment to make at this point.

Billboard.biz also hears that Hong Kong-based Silk Route Investments, a consortium led by investment bank Crosby Capital Partners that was reported to be also making a bid, has sold its 2.1% stake in Sanctuary.

Sanctuary's portfolio of assets comprises recorded music, merchandising, and artist services, such as artist management and live music.