The European Commission on Thursday approved a bid to sell EMI's music publishing business to an investment group led by Sony.
The commission, the European Union's regulatory arm, gave the deal a green light after the Sony investment group agreed to sell off four catalogs of music and the compositions of 12 songwriters including Ozzy Osbourne and Lenny Kravitz.
The Sony investment group "offered to divest valuable and attractive catalogs containing bestselling titles as well as works of successful and promising authors. 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," Joaquín Almunia, the commission's vice president of competition policy, said in a statement.
EMI is being split in two. Its music publishing business, home to more than million musical compositions, is going to the Sony investment group and the EMI music label, which includes rights to recordings of the Beatles, Pink Floyd and many others, is being sold to Universal Music Group, the world's biggest record label.
The commission is still weighing Universal's bid for EMI's music label. And both deals also must still be approved by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Rivals, consumer advocates and others have raised concerns with both deals, saying the transactions could hamper the growth of new digital music services and boost the price of music for consumers. If the Universal-EMI deal is approved, the number of U.S. record labels would fall from four to three.