European independent labels body Impala will lodge an appeal to the Sony BMG merger before the court of First Instance in Luxemburg in early December. The move was first tipped in Billboard.biz earlier this week.
In a statement issued today (Nov. 3), Brussels-based Impala says it decided to appeal “following a vote by [its] board and consultation at national level, both of which showed overwhelming support for the appeal.” Impala adds that this “is the first time an approval of a merger in the entertainment sector has been appealed.”
Impala deputy secretary general Helen Smith tells Billboard.biz that lawyers acting on behalf of Impala are still working on legal papers to present before the court. Procedures could take up to 18 months before there is a ruling in the case.
According to European Union rules, an appeal can be lodged on a Commission decision within two months and two weeks from the date of notification of the decision. Impala was notified of the Sony BMG approval on Sept. 23; the EC decision to authorize the merger was made on July 19.
The Commission has yet to receive written confirmation of the trade body’s stance. “We have not seen the Impala appeal, and to the best of my knowledge they have not filed it yet, [and] they are not even ready to file it yet. I’m only faced with a press release which doesn’t say much about their arguments,” an EC spokesperson says.
Smith declines to comment on the details of the case. “We always had fundamental objections to the merger and we believe the Commission’s decision was flawed. We aim through this appeal to re-establish our case against the merger,” she says.
Impala president Michel Lambot, co-chairman of PIAS Group, says in a statement that this is an “historic moment for the music business.”
Sony BMG issued a statement saying, “The European Commission reached its decision after an in-depth six month investigation and diligent review process, and we are confident that the court will re-affirm the decision to clear the merger.”