Extracts from the press conference by Joaquín Almunia on Mergers: Commission clears Universal's acquisition of EMI's recorded music business, subject to conditions

Type: Summary of press conference   Reference: I-074590   Duration: 10:03:16  Lieu:
End production: 21/09/2012   First transmission: 21/09/2012
On 21 September 2012, Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition, gave a press conference on Mergers. The European Commission approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of EMI's recorded music business by Universal Music Group. The approval is conditional upon the divestment of EMI's Parlophone label and numerous other music assets on a worldwide level. The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as initially notified, would have allowed Universal to significantly worsen the licensing terms it offers to digital platforms that sell music to consumers. To meet these concerns, Universal offered substantial commitments. In light of these commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns anymore.

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10:00:00 Title 00:00:05
10:00:05 General view of the press conference 00:00:04
10:00:09 Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition (in ENGLISH): The Commission today approved the acquisition of the recorded-music business of EMI by Universal. This approval is subject to stringent conditions. Universal will have to divest a very significant number of assets, including important music labels that hold the rights of many successful artists. 00:00:31
10:00:40 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:02
10:00:43 Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): In Europe, compact discs still account for the majority of sales, but the sales of digital music are rising and are expected to overtake CDs soon. So our investigation focussed on this booming digital market, where record companies license their songs to digital platforms such as iTunes and Spotify, or to telecom companies offering music to their clients as part of their subscription packages. In this environment, the process of innovation and the increased competition in digital music distribution need to be preserved. 00:00:47
10:01:30 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:03
10:01:34 Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): We wanted to understand what would be the position of Universal in the market as a result of the acquisition, given that, even before, this position was already very strong. Our investigation showed that the creation of a single Universal – EMI entity, without any sale of assets, would create competition problems both at European level, and in 26 EEA States. In all these markets, we found that the significant increase in the size of Universal after adding all of EMI's catalogue would allow the company to impose higher prices and more onerous licensing terms on the providers of digital music. 00:00:55
10:02:29 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:03
10:02:33 Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): The decision also requires that at least part of EMI as we know it continues to exist in the hands of a new owner who has experience in the music industry. This will ensure that Universal faces a strong and credible competitor in the market. 00:00:29
10:03:02 Cutaway of a cameraman 00:00:03
10:03:06 Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): The European Commission concluded that the merger would no longer put Universal in a position to harm competition. 00:00:09
10:03:16 Departure of Joaquín Almunia 00:00:09
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