September 3, 2012 / 11:30 AM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-EU to approve Universal's $1.9 bln bid for EMI -sources

* Universal concessions widened to include worldwide rights

* Bulk of EMI most valuable record label Parlophone to be sold

* EU Commission’s decision due by Sept. 27

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, Sept 3 (Reuters) - 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 Robbie Williams.

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.

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