Universal Music to Defend $1.9 Billion EMI Deal in EU Filing

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The Vivendi-owned music firm, whose artists include Lady Gaga, got an extension to respond to concerns raised by European regulators about the combined company's market share.

LONDON - Universal Music Group plans to file its response to European regulators' concerns over its proposed acquisition of part of EMI Group by the end of the day Thursday after being granted a short extension.

Vivendi-owned UMG has offered $1.9 billion to buy EMI's recorded music business. The European Commission, which is the EU's executive body, earlier this year raised a slew of competition concerns in a so-called Statement of Objections. It highlighted that the deal would create a music giant that would have almost twice the market share of its closest competitor in Europe.

UMG was originally supposed to submit its response to these concerns by a Tuesday deadline, but was granted a short extension.

“We are preparing a detailed response to the Commission's statement which will address the concerns outlined," a spokesman told THR. "We will continue to work closely with the Commission and look forward to securing regulatory clearance.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that the company's filing would come by Thursday night.

It also said that the company's request for a deadline extension was a sign that the response would address all key concerns raised in the regulators' document that was nearly 200 pages long.

One source said that UMG is likely to focus on allaying regulators' concerns about the combined entity's market share, as well as digital licensing and digital pricing power.

UMG's music stars include the likes of Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas, while EMI's recorded music business includes works of Coldplay and the Beatles.

The European review process of the UMG-EMI deal, which is also being looked at by U.S. regulators, is scheduled to be completed in September as Vivendi agreed to pay EMI owner Citigroup most of the purchase price by Sept. 10 - whether it gets regulatory approval or not.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai