EU Set To Finally OK Sony, BMG Merger
September 10, 2007 at 5:20 AM (PT)
SONY BMG looks set to win unconditional backing from the EUROPEAN UNION's top anti-trust regulator for the merger that created the music group more than three years ago, reports THE FINANCIAL TIMES. The ruling, which could come as early as this month, would end more than a year of legal uncertainty following a controversial court ruling that annulled the EUROPEAN COMMISSION's original 2004 decision to clear the deal.
BRUSSELS has until OCTOBER 10th to present its final ruling on the merger, but several people familiar with the case said the regulator was expected to clear the deal without conditions.
Crucially, the remaining weeks are seen as insufficient for BRUSSELS to take the formal steps required to either block the deal or ask for remedies such as spin-offs or a promise by SONY BMG to change its business conduct.
SONY BMG declined to comment, and people familiar with the case cautioned that the Commission could still spring a last-minute surprise, but the Commission is thought to have finalised a draft brief in which no remedies would be imposed. That outcome -- if confirmed -- would be a blow to the independent record labels, whose legal challenge against the original 2004 merger clearance triggered last year's court reversal.
It could boost hopes of another merger in the sector, between WARNER MUSIC and EMI MUSIC.