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Feds clear Sony Music, BMG merger

Marriage to be finalized over next few weeks

This article was updated at 6:51 p.m.

The Federal Trade Commission approved the merger of Sony Music and BMG on Wednesday, reducing the number of major recorded music distributors to four.

The widely anticipated approval came a little over a week after the European Union unconditionally approved the deal that brings together the music units of Japan-based Sony and German company Bertelsmann.

Sony and BMG will finalize the merger over the next few weeks and, as they begin to consolidate operations, cut about 2,000 jobs. The new music company expects to find cost savings of $300 million-$400 million.

“We look forward to establishing a dynamic new company that will be deeply dedicated to serving the needs of its artists while at the same time enriching the lives of music lovers around the world,” Sony Music said in a statement.

BMG stated “the company will be dedicated to developing and supporting an array of international as well as national artists.”

The merger leaves Sony-BMG, Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and U.K.-based EMI in control of 80% of the world music market. Universal Music currently has the top market share — 27.5% — which would fall to No. 2 behind Sony-BMG’s 29.9%.

The $8 billion company will be headed by BMG chairman-CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holz in the non-executive role of chairman of the board of directors. Sony Music chairman-CEO Andy Lack takes over as CEO of the new company, and current BMG chief exec Michael Smellie will become chief operating officer, reporting to Lack.

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