Sony group wins U.S. approval to buy EMI music publishing

WASHINGTON Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:41am EDT

A logo of Sony Corp is pictured at an electronic store in Tokyo June 27, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

A logo of Sony Corp is pictured at an electronic store in Tokyo June 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Trade Commission has approved a Sony-led consortium's purchase of EMI Music Publishing, without having to make any divestitures, the FTC said on Friday.

U.S. antitrust regulators gave the nod to the $2.2 billion deal in a brief letter to the companies.

The agency is expected to issue a decision in coming months on a related and more controversial deal -- Universal Music's plan to buy EMI's recorded music catalog from Citigroup Inc for $1.9 billion.

In its letter, the FTC said that it had been looking at the transaction but upon review found no reason for further action.

"Accordingly, the investigation has been closed," the FTC said in its letter to Sony Corp.

European antitrust regulators gave Sony approval to close its purchase of the EMI unit in April on condition it sell the worldwide publishing rights of artists, including Robbie Williams and Lenny Kravitz.

The consortium proposed a deal with Europe regulators in which they would sell the assets to satisfy concerns that the deal would break antitrust law.

Other assets to be sold are Virgin UK, Virgin Europe, Virgin U.S. and Famous Music UK, and include artists such as Gary Barlow, Ozzy Osbourne, Ben Harper, Placebo and The Kooks.

Sony, with Blackstone Group LP, Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Co, Raine Group and music and film mogul David Geffen, won the bidding for EMI Publishing last year in a deal that will put Sony on top in global music publishing.

Before the deal, Sony was the fourth biggest player in music publishing, behind Vivendi's Universal Music Group, EMI and Warner Music.

The agreement will push it into first place, owning the rights to about 3 million songs, such as "New York, New York" and Adele's recent smash "Rolling in the Deep".

Citigroup is selling EMI after taking over the group when its previous owner, private equity group Terra Firma, defaulted on borrowings from the investment bank.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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Comments (1)
Bagehot wrote:
Couple of weeks ago Barry Mazor at WSJ was remembering Frances preston, the CEO of BMI Publishing who has just passed at 83. She started as a secretary and songwriters were tracked by index cards, whom the bigshot execs felt could be left to the girls to deal with. Before Ms. Preston, the writer often went unpaid, and usually unremarked. Mazor observes that “from a strategic standpoint, that meant it was of first importance to sign writers who had promise to consistently produce; a publisher could always be found for them or created by them.”
Now it’s all sliding backward as concentration in the music industry seems to pass every regulatory hurdle unscathed. With voice being extruded by MIDI machines and then crushed into mp3s, both song and performance are in danger of simply evaporating into the conglom monolith. Sad to see another door closing in the arts.

Jun 29, 2012 8:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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