Universal secures European go ahead for EMI takeover – but must divest labels including EMI Classics

Charlotte Smith21st Sep 2012

After months of negotiations, the European Commission has finally approved Universal’s $1.9bn (£1.2bn) takeover of EMI – but with a number of conditions. In order to address fears of damage to a competitive market, Universal must dispose of a number of assets, including EMI’s Parlophone, Chrysalis, Mute - and significantly for the world of classical – EMI and Virgin Classics labels.

‘Competition in the music business is crucial to preserve choice, cultural diversity and innovation,’ said Commission vice-president in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia. ‘In this investigation, we have paid close attention to digital innovation, which is changing the way that people listen to music. 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.’

Universal originally struck the takeover deal with Citigroup in November last year. Citigroup acquired the EMI music group when buyout firm Terra Firma defaulted on its loans. Countries such as Japan, Australia and Canada have agreed to the Universal deal, but the US Federal Trade Commission is yet to give a decision, expected sometime next week.

Quite what might happen to EMI and Virgin Classics is uncertain at this point, but there is speculation labels such as Naïve or Naxos may step up to acquire their catalogues. Watch this space…

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