According to multiple sources, the European Commission is expected to announce Thursday its approval of the purchase of EMI Music Publishing by the Sony Corp. of America-led consortium. The news was first reported in the Financial Times.

That acquisition will give Sony/ATV, which will remain a separate company but serve as administrator for EMI Music Publishing, control of publishing assets that generated about $1.26 billion in annual revenue, Billboard estimates, as opposed to the $900 million that UMPG produces annually. Previously, UMPG had been the largest owner of publishing assets in the world.

As has been previously reported, Sony/ATV would serve as the administrator for the EMI publishing assets, which would be maintained in a separate company since it has a different ownership structure than Sony/ATV.

The latter company is a joint venture between Sony Corp. of America and the Michael Jackson estate and Sony/ATV itself would have a 38% stake in EMI Music Publishing if the regulatory agency approval of the acquisition is given. The other investors participating in the proposed purchase of EMI Music Publishing are: Mubadala Development Company PJSC; Jynwel Capital Limited; the Blackstone Group's GSO Capital Partners LP; and David Geffen.

Late Tuesday, the New York Times reported that if the EMI acquisition is approved, Sony will cut 326 positions over two years to achieve $70 million in net cost savings. Sony/ATV Chairman/CEO Martin Bandier sent a memo to his staff on Wednesday saying the report was premature.

That story--based on a copy of the prospectus obtained by the newspaper, issued to raise $1.15 billion to help finance the planned $2.2 billion acquisition of EMI--says that the EMI work force would be reduced by 142 people within the first year of ownership and 174 would be let go after serving on a transitional basis. That would leave 189 EMI staffers with jobs.

Earlier this month, Sony/ATV offered to sell publishing assets worth $20 million in royalties, according to a Reuters article, in an attempt to get the EU to approve the transaction without having to face second stage scrutiny like Universal Music Group's proposed $1.9 billion acquisition of EMI recorded music operation. The EU regulatory commissioners are expected to announce tomorrow whether they are approving the deal; or will take a longer second phase look at the deal like they did with Universal Music Group's attempt to acquire EMI's muusic assets which has been pushed from March to what will likely be August of this year.

While the planned cutbacks would achieve a total of $120 million in savings, as the administrator of EMI Music Publishing Sony/ATV would be paid $50 million, based on the traditional 15% administration fee, which would be based on net publisher's share.