Universal's EMI Takeover Approved in the U.S. and Europe

Universal's EMI Takeover Approved in the U.S. and Europe
Today (September 21) regulators in both the U.S. and Europe have formally approved Universal Music's purchase of rival EMI in a $1.9 billion business merger, despite anti-trust concerns.

Both the European Commission and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have approved the deal, Reuters reports, but Universal will have to sell off several of EMI's properties for the deal to go through.

"The very significant commitments proposed by Universal will ensure that competition in the music industry is preserved and that European consumers continue to enjoy all its benefits," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

In addition to a number of jazz labels, some of the key companies Universal will need to sell off include the esteemed Parlophone imprint, home to Coldplay, Blur and more. Interestingly, Billboard reports that while the Beatles fall under the imprint's umbrellas, Universal will manage to hold on to the rights of the Fab Four's material.

Another plum Universal will have to drop from the acquisition is Mute Records, which was sold to EMI in 2002. The legendary label is home to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Depeche Mode, Liars, and more. According to the New York Times, Mute founder Daniel Miller "has expressed interest" in buying back his company.

In the statement, Beggars Group Chariman Martin Mills added, "It's good to see that the Commission has seen this deal as such a threat to the market that it has demanded and received truly swingeing commitments to divestments. However, that should not conceal that fact that Universal's arrogance has paid off for them, that they have destroyed a significant competitor, and that even with these divestments their ability to dominate and control the market has reached even more unacceptable levels. Anyone trying to start a new digital service will be realising that very soon, and we will continue to look to the regulators to monitor ongoing behaviour."

Other offshoots to sell include the Ensign and Chrysalis labels, EMI Classics, Virgin Classics, Sanctuary Records and EMI's units in France, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Norway, among others. Everything must be sold within the next six months.

While the sale has just been approved by the European Union and the United States, the merger had already been approved in Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.