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News May 23, 2018

Indie sector concerned about Sony/EMI deal, calls for EU regulatory scrutiny

Staff Writer
Indie sector concerned about Sony/EMI deal, calls for EU regulatory scrutiny

The independent sector has responded to Sony/ATV plans to acquire the lion’s share of EMI’s music publishing, by calling upon European Union regulators to evaluate the potential monopolistic ramifications of the deal.

Helen Smith, executive chair of the Independent Music Companies Association, Impala, stated: “The European Commission will want to avoid reinforcing the Sony/Universal duopoly, the two-horse race which started in 2012 with the sale of EMI.

“This is a step too far and I would expect to see an in-depth investigation in the EU and other key jurisdictions”.

As reported in TMN yesterday, Sony/ATV owner Sony Corp has offered $2.3 billion to buy Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Company’s 60% equity stake in EMI Music Publishing.  

That would give it a 90% stake. The remaining 10% is held by the Michael Jackson estate.

If the sale goes through, Sony would end up owning or administering 2.3 million copyrights.

EMI Music Publishing artists include Pink, Pharrell Williams, Kane West and Drake, as well as classic catalogues from Queen and Carole King.

Impala’s Smith added, “Sony is already by far the world’s largest music publisher and an indispensable trading partner controlling over 2.3 million copyrights.

“If this sale was to happen, its market power would be reinforced with serious competition issues, including excessive bargaining power when negotiating with collecting societies and the authors they represent, as well as other actors in the value chains such as labels and online services.”

Impala claims that back in 2012, Sony knew that regulators would not approve its intended purchase of EMI Music Publishing.

It contends that Sony then put together a consortium to get the approval through, and then quietly dismantle the consortium through the years.

“This confirms the concerns expressed by Impala back in 2012 when the European Commission cleared the acquisition of EMI publishing by a consortium including Sony/ATV, and then again in 2016 when the Commission cleared Sony’s move from joint to sole control of Sony/ATV,” Smith said

“It shows that ultimately, Sony is taking complete control of EMI publishing, while the initial deal was structured as a consortium to get this bid approved by the regulatory authority.”

It is expected that regulators in the European Union and the United States will look closely at the Sony/EMI bid.


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