IMPALA calls foul on Sony-EMI

Euro indie group hopes to halt music publishing acquisition

The European independent trade group IMPALA has stated renewed opposition to Sony Music Entertainment’s purchase of EMI Music’s publishing holdings.

The European Commission is currently reviewing the EMI sale, and a decision is expected in early April. The FTC is weighing the deal in the U.S.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Brussels-based indie org’s executive chair Helen Smith said, “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. We expect the regulators to block both Sony and Universal’s bid to buy EMI.”

A consortium of buyers led by SME has bid $2.2 billion for EMI Music Publishing, while Universal Music Group has offered $1.9 billion for EMI’s label holdings.

IMPALA’s statement also said a Sony-EMI combine would afford the company too much control of prices and other terms, even in negotiations with players the size of iTunes, and too much power over royalty collecting societies.

Even before Sony and Universal’s bids for EMI were finalized in November, IMPALA was vocal in opposing the sale, saying that regulatory approval would create a “duopoly” that would “increase the competitive gap for independents.”

Britain’s Assn. of Independent Music has also assailed the sale as anti-competitive, and in January urged its members to send a draft letter opposing the deal to members of Parliament.

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