Universal could divest to secure EMI takeover bid

UNIVERSAL Music Group could be forced to sell small parts of its empire to appease critics who argue that its takeover of British record label EMI will harm competition.

The £1.2bn deal announced in November would see Universal behind 49.5 per cent of European music downloads and 54 per cent of airplay tracks, according to a recent report by Impala, the association of independent music companies.

With over 4,000 members across Europe, Impala is leading the charge that Universal’s buyout of EMI would flout competition interests.

Universal are expected to file for approval from the European Commission within the next two weeks, after rival buyer Warner Music withdrew its bid in late October.

Citigroup saved EMI from its more than $4bn debt pile by taking the struggling music company out of Guy Hands’ grip last February.

Alongside the sale of EMI’s recorded music arm to Universal, Citigroup will take over $2bn from a Sony-led consortium for EMI’s music publishing wing.

Artists signed to EMI – the label behind Frank Sinatra and The Beatles – currently include Coldplay, Katy Perry and Kylie Minogue.