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Mergers News

Warner overtakes EMI in recorded market share -data

LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - Warner Music Group WMG.N overtook EMI EMI.L in 2006 to have the third-largest share of the global recorded music market, while Universal Music maintained its overall dominance, new data shows.

Universal Music Group (UMG), which is owned by Vivendi VIV.PA, had a share of 25.7 percent in 2006 for physical and digital music markets, slightly up from its share of 25.6 percent in 2005, and ahead of Sony BMG 6758.T on 21.2 percent.

Warner had a market share of 13.8 percent, up from 12.8 in 2005, while EMI, which issued two profit warnings within five weeks earlier this year, dropped to a share of 12.8 percent from 13.6 percent in 2005.

The remaining 27.5 percent was held by independent labels.

The data was produced by the Music & Copyright trade publication, which is published by Informa INF.L.

It has taken on added significance in recent years as the industry trade body, the IFPI, has not released market share figures since 2005 due to disagreements among its members over how to account for digital sales.

The report attributed EMI’s fall to a poor performance in the United States and cited research by Nielsen Soundscan, which showed EMI’s share of total physical album sales in the U.S. at 10.2 percent.

The report said Warner had benefited from its 16 percent share of the digital-only market, compared with EMI’s 10.5 percent.

EMI and Warner have been engaged in a tit-for-tat takeover battle for the last seven years, but the deal has always failed due to regulatory concerns. EMI is set to be bought by private equity firm Terra Firma but Warner has until Thursday to make a counterbid.

Analysts say a tie-up between the two would cut costs and help EMI’s historical weakness in the U.S.

The report also showed Universal had the largest share of the digital music market, at 26.5 percent, and the largest share of revenues generated from the exploitation of recorded music copyrights, an area of growing importance as physical sales continue to decline.

“While UMG’s digital share was larger than its combined physical and digital market share, its total revenue share (including licensing and copyright deals) was even bigger at 27.5 percent,” said Phil Hardy, editor of Music & Copyright.

“This suggests that it is using its dominance in the physical and digital markets to generate higher revenues from synchronisation and direct licensing.”

Universal enjoyed success last year with albums from U2, Andrea Bocelli and Snow Patrol.

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