The European Commission is set to approve the acquisition of EMI Publishing by a consortium led by Sony Music for $2.2 billion, The Financial Times reports. The buyout will give Sony the publishing rights to the output of hundreds of songwriters including Gorillaz, Guy Chambers, and Pharell Williams, bringing its market share to around 25-30 percent. In turn, Sony has agreed to sell off the rights to the Virgin and Famous catalogs, along with several other songwriters. The deal still has to be passed by regulators in the US, Australia, and Brazil before going ahead.
The swift regulatory approval is in stark contrast to the full antitrust investigation faced by Universal in its buyout of EMI Music, the record label arm of the firm. While regulators are concerned by the level of control Universal would be able to exert over both physical and online music sales, Sony's control of EMI Publishing has not been deemed a threat to competition. However, rivals Warner Music and Impala are less happy with the deal, saying that the divestiture of Virgin and Famous amounts to only 2 percent of Sony's catalog — far less than they had demanded the EU to strip Sony of, despite its $25m annual worth.