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August 3, 2016

Sony gets EU clearance for Michael Jackson deal

News: Warner Music, Impala had raised concerns over the deal.

By CBR Staff Writer

Sony has received unconditional approval from the EU antitrust regulators to acquire Michael Jackson's stake in its music publishing joint venture.

The approval will enable Sony/ATV Music Publishing to own copyrights to the Beatles' songs and songs by Taylor Swift.

The European Commission said that the transaction would not affect the competition in the recorded music and music publishing industries.

The EU competition enforcer said in a statement: "The transaction will not materially increase Sony's market power vis-a-vis digital music providers compared to the situation prior to the merger.”

Sony’s rival Warner Music Group and independent labels had raised concerns over the deal.

In March, Sony signed a deal to acquire the stake held by the deceased pop star in the music company, Reuters reported.

Later, the Independent Music Publishers Forum (IMPF) joined Warner Music and Impala in conveying concerns over the agreement reached by Sony with the Estate of Michael Jackson to buy the remaining shares of its catalogue in Sony/ATV.

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Brussels-based IMPF said that the transaction worth an estimated $750m “would lead to a concentration of catalogue in the hands of Sony ATV, a company which arguably holds some 30% of the music publishing market and would put further strain on pricing and give Sony/ATV even more negotiating power on deal terms with over the top companies in the music market."

In April, Sony announced a deal to obtain full ownership of Sony/ATV by acquiring the 50% interest in Sony/ATV held by the Estate of Michael Jackson.

The Estate had noted that the transaction would not affect its continuing substantial interests in other music assets, including all of Michael Jackson's master recordings as well as Mijac Music.

Mijac Music is the publishing firm that owns all of the songs written by Michael Jackson as well as songs by some of his favorite songwriters and artists that were acquired by Michael during his life.

IMPF president Pierre Mossiat was quoted by Music Week as saying: “IMPF intends to complain to the European Commission over the acquisition which needs to be carefully considered not only on the grounds of the distortion of the market it will cause, and in particular to independent music publishers, but also in the long run, the risk of reduced consumer choice and increased prices.”

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