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Will Warner oppose Universal’s EMI deal?

By | Published on Wednesday 18 January 2012


The indie label community might be about to get a big ally as it lobbies against Universal Music’s proposed purchase of the EMI record companies, and Sony/ATV’s plans to lead an acquisition of the EMI publishing catalogues.

The Legal Times has noted that Warner Music has just hired the lobbying services of US law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, seemingly to work on anti-trust issues. As the EMI sale is the biggest story in which competition laws are relevant in the music business just now, the Legal Times reckons that Warner Music plans to oppose the EMI/Universal deal (and possibly the Sony deal, though the Universal transaction is more likely) as US regulators consider the proposed takeover.

As previously reported, in Europe indie labels trade body IMPALA is already opposing both the Universal and Sony takeovers, arguing that further consolidation of the music industry would be anti-competitive, and detrimental to the wider creative industries.

Warner, of course, also bid for the EMI record companies, but was pushed out of the race by Universal which was able to offer more money. Warner bosses have since said they don’t regret losing the bidding war because they believe Universal paid too much money for EMI’s recorded music business.

However, a combined EMI/Universal will create a colossal competitor for Warner, and also ensure it is by far the smallest of the three majors. Whether that fact would motivate execs there to try and block the deal remains to be seen. The engagement of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck possibly suggests it is, at least, something being considered.

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