Europe's top antitrust regulator is set to sign off in the coming days on the proposed $1.9 billion acquisition of EMI Music's record labels by Universal Music Group.
Joaquín Almunia, the European Union's antitrust chief, said the parties had proposed remedies that were market-tested and that those tests had demonstrated the need for further concessions by the parties. "We have analyzed this second wave" of remedies, Almunia told reporters after a speech at Georgetown University Law School, and a decision is expected by Sept. 27 at the latest. "Most probably we will announce our decision before the last day," he said.
The deal has raised competition concerns in the U.S. In August, the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz urging a careful review of the deal. Sens. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, expressed concern that the combined company would have a 40 percent share of the U.S. market for recorded music.
Almunia didn't say whether the FTC's portion of the antitrust review was also nearing an end. "I think the conditions of the merger in the two markets are not the same." The problems in Europe, in terms of concentration of the recorded music industry, "are more evident," he said.