European Union Approves Sony/ATV's EMI Music Publishing Deal

Anti-trust regulators gave the green light for the $2.2 billion acquisition as long as the new owners sell off some publishing assets.

LONDON - European anti-trust regulators on Thursday gave conditional approval for the planned acquisition of EMI Group's music publishing division by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a group led by Sony Corp.

The European Commission decided that the $2.2 billion deal can go through as long as Sony sells off some music publishing assets to ensure a competitive marketplace. The move means that Sony does not have to go through a longer regulatory review.

“Having spent over 17 years of my professional life helping to build EMI Music Publishing, today is not only an important milestone on the path to final approval, but a very special day for me, personally," said Martin Bandier, chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. "But more than that, everyone at Sony/ATV joins me in recognizing the unparalleled talent and incredible assets of EMI Music Publishing and the great opportunities that lie ahead.”

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The Wall Street Journal reported that Sony originally offered to sell some assets, but had to promise more disposals to win regulators' approval.

The investor group is expected to sell off three of EMI Music Publishing's catalogs and one of Sony's, which all focus on older songs, the paper said. They include Virgin Music Publishing's songs in the U.K., the U.S. and Europe and Famous Music's catalog of U.K. songs. The group is also expected to sell the rights to works by select contemporary songwriters.

In a statement, the Sony group said it "welcomes the European Commission’s conditional phase I approval." It added that it "looks forward to successfully concluding the other regulatory review processes that are underway in other regions and to working with EMI Music Publishing’s extraordinary roster of artists and songwriters to bring their work to even wider audiences around the world."