The clearance still leaves Sony waiting for the Federal Trade Commission, which is expected to take a few months before deciding whether to approve the $2.2B deal. But it’s still a big step forward for Sony’s ambition to make its Sony/ATV subsidiary — a joint venture with Michael Jackson’s estate — the No. 1 owner of music publishing rights. EMI’s catalog includes standards such as New York New York, You’ve Got A Friend, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Over The Rainbow, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Singin’ In the Rain, and The James Bond Theme. The EU said that it would approve the acquisition once Sony divests four catalogs — Virgin UK, Virgin Europe, Virgin US, and Famous Music UK — and works by 12 contemporary songwriters including Gary Barlow, Ozzy Osbourne, Robbie Williams, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Placebo and The Kooks. With that agreement, “I am therefore satisfied that the competitive dynamics in the online music publishing business will be maintained so as to ensure consumer choice and cultural diversity,” EU vice president of competition policy Joaquin Almunia says. Sony/ATV chief Martin Bandier, who used to run EMI Music Publishing, calls the EU decision “an important milestone” for the deal as well as “a very special day for me, personally.” Sony/ATV has financial backing for the deal from Mubadala Development Company, Jynwel Capital, the Blackstone Group’s GSO Capital Partners, and David Geffen.
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