Key developments in proposed sale of EMI Group

Last Updated: Fri, Jun 29, 2012 23:00 hrs

., the iconic British music company that is home to The Beatles, Coldplay and Katy Perry, is being split and sold, though it faces regulatory scrutiny as the planned buyers increase their dominance of the music industry.

Here are key developments in the proposed sale:

Nov. 11, 2011: Universal Music Group and Sony/ATV announce plans to pay $4.1 billion for EMI. Universal would get the recording division for 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion), joining Universal artists including Lady Gaga and Eminem with EMI superstars such as David Guetta and Lady Antebellum. A consortium led by Sony/ATV would pay $2.2 billion for EMI's publishing division, which is in charge of songwriting copyrights for such artists as Rihanna and Norah Jones.

Jan. 31, 2012: Outgoing Warner Music chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. says the proposed purchase of EMI by recording rivals Universal and Sony/ATV is "dangerous" and must be stopped by regulators. At a technology conference, he says the deals would create overly dominant global players that could harm new digital music platforms and crimp payments to artists.

March 23: The EU's competition regulator says it is launching an in-depth probe of Universal's planned acquisition. The European Commission says the deal would make Universal Music "almost twice the size of the next largest player" in Europe's recorded-music market.

March 27: The European Commission says the Sony consortium has offered concessions to get approval for its deal. The Commission did not give details, but they could include the sale of certain units or a commitment to change certain business practices. The commission has said it will decide by Thursday whether Sony/ATV's concessions are sufficient. It has said it will decide by Aug. 8 whether Universal's takeover of EMI's recorded music division will impede competition.

April 17: It's disclosed that Universal Music Group has won the qualified support of two North American artists' unions for its proposed deal to buy part of EMI. The unions gave their conditional backing in letters to the Federal Trade Commission.

April 19: The European Union's competition regulator approves the Sony portion of the deal after the Sony-led group of investors promised to sell the publishing rights to several music catalogues as well as the works of 12 artists, including Ozzy Osbourne, Robbie Williams, and Ben Harper. During its review of the deal, the European Commission found that without the sale of those rights, Sony/ATV would have been able to control the online licensing of Anglo-American chart hits in Europe.

Friday: The Sony-led portion of the deal is completed after getting approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Friday's clearance means that regulators didn't think the new entity would have the market power to raise rates on its own or coordinate such a move with others, which could have affected the price of songs. The FTC's conclusion of its investigation without objections was the final hurdle for the Sony deal.

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