Probe of music merger near end

No changes likely for Sony BMG

BRUSSELS — European competition regulators are set to conclude their investigation of the 2004 merger between Sony Music and BMG later this month. The Financial Times reported this week that a decision endorsing the merger, with no conditions, had already been drafted by the European Commission.

Such a ruling would end a year of legal uncertainty for the music giant.

A rep for competition commissioner Neelie Kroes confirmed that a decision is due, probably in advance of the Oct. 10 deadline, but declined to comment on the possible outcome.

The commission has now investigated the merger for the second time. Its first positive assessment in 2004 was overturned in 2006, after independent music labels appealed on the grounds that the merger was stifling competition and new talent.

Latest probe was launched in March in order to carry out a thorough analysis of the merger in the light of developments since 2004, including growing online sales. It covers only the 15 countries that were members of the EU in 2004.

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