Sony, BMG win EU second approval for their JV

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Japanese electronics group Sony and Germany’s Bertelsmann on Wednesday again won the approval of the European Commission for their joint venture that has created the second-largest record music business in the world.

The European Union’s antitrust competition office gave the greenlight without imposing any conditions after finding the creation of Sony BMG, a joint venture combining the record music business of Sony and Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), a subsidiary of Bertelsmann, would not create or strengthen a dominant position in the music markets. The commission previously approved the deal in 2004 and the two companies have already gone ahead with their joint venture.

Rival music groups have appealed the decision, however, on the basis that the commission made errors in its assessment and relied on insufficient evidence. The decision had been overturned in 2006 by the European Court of First Instance, the EU’s second-highest court in Luxembourg.

Following the annulment, the commission began a new assessment of the transaction and opened an in-depth investigation in March. “This investigation represents one of the most thorough analyses of complex information ever undertaken by the commission in a merger procedure,” EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement. “It clearly shows that the merger would not raise competition concerns in any of the affected markets.”

The commission said it re-evaluated the transaction in light of current market conditions, taking into account developments since 2004, including the developments in the sales of online music.

With about 25% of global music sales, Sony BMG is currently the world’s second-largest music group after Universal, and is followed by Warner and EMI. (people.com.cn)

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