Sony, BMG Expected To Win Appeal Vs EU
November 8, 2007 at 6:29 AM (PT)
SONY and BERTELSMANN AG are expected to succeed in their appeal against a EU court ruling that blocked the proposed merger of their recorded music units last year, legal sources told THOMSON FINANCIAL NEWS. DAVID ANDERSON, partner at BERWIN LEIGHTON PAISNER, said, "It is probable that the parties will prevail." He said it is widely thought that the EUROPEAN Court of First Instance's (CFI) 2006 ruling had been too harsh on the commission and the merging parties by "raising the (burden of proof) bar too high and by creating an unworkable system."
Following a hearing concluded yesterday, an advocate general (AG) judge is expected to deliver a non-binding opinion on the appeal on DEC. 13th. In around eight out of 10 cases, the final EUROPEAN Court of Justice judgment, expected several months later, follows the AG's ruling.
In JULY 2006, the CFI overturned the BRUSSELS-based EU executive's clearance of the 50-50 joint venture in JULY, 2004, following an appeal lodged by IMPALA -- the INDEPENDENT MUSIC PUBLISHERS AND LABELS ASSOCIATION representing 3,500 independent labels.
The companies re-notified the merger to the EU executive following the block. At the beginning of last month, the commission for the second time cleared the merger without conditions.