A day after the European Commission announced its in-depth probe into Sony's 2004 recorded music merger with BMG, independents trade group Impala has confirmed its vehement opposition to the deal.

At a board meeting in Brussels Friday, Impala re-examined its merger strategy, but reiterated that it "continues to oppose absolutely the merger of Sony and BMG without appropriate remedies, which they have continually refused to contemplate, as indeed with Universal and BMG."

However, Impala has been careful to contrast its opposition with Sony BMG to the conditional support it offered last month to Warner Music Group's takeover strategy for EMI.

That support came after Impala received pledges from WMG over how it would carve up the market in the event of a merger. But the timing of the two announcements has been delicate, and Impala said it would "in its judgment of the best interests of its members, limit any further circulation or disclosure of the Warner agreement until such time as the parties agree that it may be fully publicly disclosed, and further fully informed discussion is possible."

The Commission formally announced Thursday a four-month in-depth investigation into the 2004 merger that created Sony BMG. The deal is being re-examined eight months after the EU's second-highest court annulled the July 2004 decision to clear it, citing "manifest errors" in how officials examined the possible impact of the merger.

The appeal was originally lodged by Impala, which said the merger would muscle out smaller labels and prevent newcomers from breaking into the market.

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