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European Commission set to approve Apple’s Shazam purchase

By | Published on Thursday 23 August 2018


The European Commission is expected to approve Apple’s acquisition of music recognition platform Shazam without demanding any remedies.

The EC’s competition regulators¬†announced back in February that they were looking into Apple’s Shazam purchase. The $400 million Shazam deal wasn’t actually big enough for the EU to automatically investigate the transaction, but it did require approval from regulators in Austria under merger rules there.

The Austrian regulator decided to bounce the investigation up to the EC, a move that was subsequently backed by France, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden. In April, EC officials confirmed that they were launching a full investigation into the deal.

A key concern seemed to be the amount of traffic currently directed to Spotify through Shazam. Consumers who use the app to identify music can then click through to the relevant track on various music platforms, including many of Apple Music’s competitors like Spotify. If Apple were to close off click-throughs to other streaming services, or shut down Shazam entirely, that would have a negative effect on Apple Music’s rivals.

As the full investigation was launched, the EC commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, said: “The way people listen to music has changed significantly in recent years, with more and more Europeans using music streaming services. Our investigation aims to ensure that music fans will continue to enjoy attractive music streaming offers and won’t face less choice as a result of this proposed merger”.

The deadline for that fuller investigation is 4 Sep and it’s thought the EU executive is scheduled to make a final decision on whether to approve the deal on 18 Sep. But,¬†according to Reuters, two people familiar with the matter have already said that the deal will be approved without conditions.

EC regulators can block takeovers out right on competition law grounds, but for an acquisition of this kind it’s more likely that officials would place restrictions on the deal. However, according to Reuters’ sources, the EC will give the Shazam purchase the go ahead without making any such demands.

It’s still not entirely clear what Apple plans to do with the Shazam technology and brand once the deal has properly gone through.