Science & Environment

Sony group offers to sell catalogues to get EMI unit: sources

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A Sony-led group has offered to sell several music catalogues which generated 15 million euros ($19.9 million) in royalties last year to win EU approval for its planned buy of record label EMI’s music publishing business, two people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Sony, with Blackstone Group, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co., Raine Group and music and film mogul David Geffen, trumped rival BMG in the bidding for EMI Publishing last year.

The consortium submitted its proposals to the European Commission last week and the EU watchdog has set an April 19 deadline for a decision.

The group has proposed selling the Virgin UK, U.S. and Europe catalogues, which are part of EMI Music Publishing, Sony’s own famous music publishing catalogue, and some of Sony and EMI’s recent hits, the people said.

They said the divestment offer was only for Europe and that both Sony and EMI would retain the catalogues for the rest of the world. The Commission has given third parties until Monday to respond to the group’s proposals, they said.

A spokesman for Sony in New York declined to comment.

Sony is now the fourth biggest player in music publishing, behind Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, EMI and Warner Music.

Citigroup is selling EMI after taking over the group when its previous owner, private equity group Terra Firma, defaulted on borrowings from the investment bank.

Impala, a trade organization representing Europe’s independent music companies, has urged the EU regulator to veto the deal because it would give Sony excessive power and result in an overly concentrated market.

The EU watchdog is also currently investigating Universal’s bid to buy EMI’s recorded music business, citing concerns about the combined group’s potential high market share and increased market power.

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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