If approved publishing unit will have 22% market share.

Vivendi, the owner of Universal Music Publishing Group, Friday (Nov. 3) formally asked the Commission to clear its €1.63 billion ($2.1 billion) takeover of BMG Music Publishing.

"We have today asked for formal clearance from the Commission for the purchase, and we are confident that the deal will be approved," said a Universal Music spokesman.

Sources close to the deal said there is little reason for the Commission - the European Union's antitrust authority - to raise any objections to the takeover, which would cut the number of major music publishers from the existing five to four.

"It should be straightforward," one insider said. "It is essentially the merger of the number three and number four publishers. BMG and Universal each have around 11% of the (global music publishing) market. If approved, they will have a 22% combined market share, about two points more than the market leader, EMI."

Vivendi beat off rivals EMI and Warner Music in September to purchase BMG Music Publishing whose archive of more than a million songs includes Coldplay, Britney Spears and Robbie Williams.

BMG Music Publishing is expected to complement rather than overlap the Universal catalog that includes artists like U2 and Elton John.

Bertelsmann, which is selling BMG Music Publishing, wants to use the cash from the sale to pay a €4.5 billion ($ 5.7 billion) bridge loan it used to buy back a 25.1% stake in the firm held by Belgian investor Groupe Bruxelles Lambert in July.

The move for Commission approval comes just four months after the Court of First Instance, the EU's second-highest court, annulled the Commission's approval of BMG Music Entertainment's merger with Sony Music Entertainment. The court had upheld an appeal against the merger of two major labels by Impala, the trade body for Europe's independent labels.

However, the music publishing purchase should face fewer problems as it does not deal directly with consumers and, therefore, retail prices.

Since the combined entity is not expected to be more than a quarter of the overall market, there is little risk that it will impede effective competition in the market for music publishing in the EU.