Sony And Bertlesmann Refile Merger Request With EU
February 2, 2007 at 5:47 AM (PT)
SONY CORP. and BERTLESMANN AG have refiled a request for EU regulators to approve a 2004 deal combining their music units, the EUROPEAN COMMISSION said THURSDAY.
Regulators have to re-examine the deal they cleared in JULY 2004 because an EU court struck down their original approval last JULY, citing "manifest errors" in how authorities decided that combining the two music companies would not restrict customer choice.
The judgment undermined the legality of the SONY BMG deal that formed the world's second-largest record label behind UNIVERSAL. It also raised fears that the EU would have trouble clearing other takeovers in the record industry -- now dominated by only four main players -- that led to EMI and WARNER abandoning merger talks last summer.
But BERTLESMANN said last year the surprise Court of First Instance ruling made no real difference to the business, which has been operating since AUGUST 2004.
The commission must now assess the SONY BMG joint venture looking at current market circumstances. It will have to examine market share, customer base and contracts with artists.