The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of joint control over the music publishing business of EMI Group, a British company, by Sony of USA and Mubadala Development Company PJSC, an investment fund based in the United Arab Emirates.
The decision is conditional upon the divestiture of the worldwide publishing rights to four catalogues and the musical works of 12 contemporary authors. In light of these commitments, the European competition concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns.
The catalogues to be sold are Virgin UK, Virgin Europe, Virgin U.S. and Famous Music UK and include artists such as Gary Barlow, Ozzy Osbourne, Ben Harper, Placebo and The Kooks, as well as Lenny Kravitz and Robbie Williams.
The EC's initial investigation found that the transaction, as initially notified, raised serious doubts as to its compatibility with the internal market in the area of online licensing of copyrights. The commission's analysis focused, in particular, on the merged entity's ability to control the online licensing of Anglo-American chart hits in the European Economic Area (EEA).
During the first-phase review, the parties submitted commitments to divest the worldwide rights in relation to works included in four catalogues - namely Virgin UK, Virgin Europe, Virgin US, and Famous Music UK - and to the recent and future musical works of 12 contemporary Anglo-American authors, some of whom have future delivery obligations towards the parties.