BMG chairman Rolf Schmidt-Holtz tells Billboard.biz that the integration of Sony and BMG could take a year to complete.

BMG chairman Rolf Schmidt-Holtz tells Billboard.biz that the integration of Sony and BMG could take a year to complete.

His comments follow the European Commission's confirmation yesterday (July 19) that it would green light the project.

Schmidt-Holtz declined to comment on reports that the merger would lead to 2,000 layoffs. "When two large companies join forces, they do this because they want to cut costs and must do so. These are costs which do not benefit the consumer and music. We will do this as well, because we have no other choice. It is also what we told the Commission," he says.

Sony had no comment on potential layoffs.

Schmidt-Holtz nevertheless remains optimistic about the outlook for the new company. "There will now be greater competition in the international music industry," Schmidt-Holtz says. "This means that we will have more money and will therefore be able to invest more in music and artists rather than in administration. This is good news for artists and for consumers."

Meanwhile, in an internal memo to staff obtained by Billboard.biz, Gunther Thielen, chairman of BMG parent company Bertelsmann, says that BMG and Sony "are now working closely with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and are optimistic that final action will be forthcoming in the very near future." Then, he says, the companies will face "the third and last step in the merger -- the integration of the two companies."

He continues: "The success of Sony BMG depends on it. At the end of a unification process ... Sony BMG will emerge as a first-class, global music company. We are counting on every single one of you along the way."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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