IMPALA Says It Expects EMI-Universal Deal to Be 'Blocked Outright'
IMPALA Says It Expects EMI-Universal Deal to Be 'Blocked Outright'

Independent rights group Impala is reiterating its opposition to Sony's acquisition of EMI Music Publishing from Citigroup. Tuesday's statement comes a day after Sony officially notified the European Commission's antitrust regulator of its the acquisition. The EU has set an April 2 deadline to give a decision, according to multiple reports.

Impala has stood against the acquisitions of EMI's two divisions - recorded music by Universal Music Group and music publishing by a Sony-led investment group - since before the deals were even completed. The group asked the EU to intervene as soon as news of EMI's likely suitors hit the press in early December. The fact that EMI's divisions were being acquired was less an issue than the size of the post-merger companies that would result from the acquisitions. A Universal-Sony duopoly would be "the worst possible outcome" for independent creators as well as their fans, Impala argued in a statement.

Antitrust regulators will have to consider the impact on competition and prices when two large companies get even bigger. Adding EMI to Universal would only add to the latter's market-leading share in the recorded music business. Impala has confidently stated it believes the Universal-EMI deal will be "blocked outright" even if it offers to increase its divestments to appease regulators.

IMPALA Issues Statement on EMI Sale

The acquisition of EMI's publishing business is a bit different, however. While the market share of a post-merger Sony/ATV-EMI would be less than Universal's share, it would be the biggest in the music publishing industry. And while Sony/ATV would certainly have operational control over EMI Music Publishing, its share of the company is just 38%.

But Impala is not swayed by Sony's minority ownership. "However this deal is structured in terms of finance and ownership, the result is the same - Sony would increase its negotiating power to an unacceptable extent," said executive chair Helen Smith in Tuesday's statement. "We expect the regulators to block both Sony and Universal's bid to buy EMI."

"The proposed acquisition of EMI Music Publishing by Sony and the investor group has been notified to the European Commission," the parties said in a statement, according to the Wall Street Journal. "The parties will continue to engage constructively with the commission and are confident that the transaction will be approved."