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EU gives thumbs up to Sony's $2.2 billion takeover of EMI

The European Union has approved the Sony-led acquisition of EMI Music. But there are strings attached. 

By Matthew Shaer / April 19, 2012

Sony Corporation of America's acquisition of EMI Music Publishing was reportedly approved by the European Union this week.

Reuters

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The European Union has given its blessing to a consortium led by Sony of America, which will acquire part of EMI Music in a $2.2 billion deal, effectively creating what The New York Times calls "the largest catalog of songs in the world." The consortium, known as Sony/ATV, is a joint venture between Sony and a range of investors, including music mogul David Geffen; the Michael Jackson estate; and Mubadala Development, a firm based in Abu Dhabi

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The seal of approval from the EU comes with several caveats, Fox News is reporting. Among them: Sony/ATV must sell the rights to a handful of publishing catalogues, which would have given Sony/ATV an unfair boost in the European market.  

"Sony and Mubadala have offered to divest valuable and attractive catalogues containing bestselling titles as well as works of successful and promising authors," Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. "I am therefore satisfied that the competitive dynamics in the online music publishing business will be maintained so as to ensure consumer choice and cultural diversity."

With the deal, Sony will obtain control of music by Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan, among other artists. 

In a statement obtained by Billboard, Sony/ATV Music Publishing chairman Martin Bandier called the news not only "an important milestone on the path to final approval, but a very special day for me, personally. 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." 

In related news, Universal Music Group has said it will buy the remainder of EMI Music. That deal is still pending

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