* Universal concessions widened to include worldwide rights
* Bulk of EMI most valuable record label Parlophone to be
* EU Commission's decision due by Sept. 27
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, Sept 3 EU regulators will allow
Universal Music Group to go ahead with its $1.9 billion takeover
of EMI after Universal offered to sell global rights to EMI's
most valuable record labels and catalogues, two people familiar
with the deal said on Monday.
EMI's seller, Citigroup Inc, acquired the company
after its previous owner, buyout firm Terra Firma, defaulted on
loans owed to the investment bank.
Universal, which is owned by French group Vivendi,
proposed in July to sell the bulk of Parlophone, one of EMI's
most prized assets, with stars such as Coldplay and marquee acts
such as Queen, EMI Chief Executive Officer Roger Faxon told
staff at the time.
The package of concessions also included the divestment of
EMI Classics, Virgin Classics, EMI units in France, Belgium, the
Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Norway, and
Universal brands Sanctuary, Co-Op and Universal's Greek unit.
That offer, which referred only to European rights, was made
after the European Commission warned Universal its proposed deal
would impede competition and that the combined group would need
to cut its market share to below 40 percent.
Universal has since broadened the scope of the concessions
after a market test by the Commission, which acts as EU
competition regulator, one of the people said.
"The scope of the concessions is likely to be global rather
than limited to the EU," said the person, who declined to be
identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The European Commission declined to comment. It has set a
Sept. 27 deadline for its decision.
The EU executive earlier allowed a Sony-led group
to buy EMI's music publishing business in April after a pledge
to sell the worldwide publishing rights of artists, including
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also examining the
Universal-EMI deal. The combined group would include a vast
library of current top-selling and legendary names including
Jay-Z, Kanye West, Katy Perry and Pink Floyd.