IMPALA Challenges Universal's Creeping Dominance And Asks EC To Examine Sale Of Publishing Assets
IMPALa has asked the EC to examine the publishing divestments ordered under the Universal/BMG merger and investigate its recent acquisition of at least eight independent companies across Europe.
It is concerned that independent cash buyers may be being excluded from bidding for assets such as Rondor UK, Zomba US and UK, as well as 19 Music, 19 Songs and BBC Music. These companies are up for sale as a condition of the Commission's approval of the Universal/BMG merger in June. Any discrimination between potential bidders or any pre-determined plan to sell off the assets as one lot, for example to another major, would contravene the strict rules in the decision. IMPALA also believes that the Commission may have overvalued the significance of the assets to be sold.
At the same time, IMPALA has urged the Commission to put a stop to Universal's creeping dominance. Universal's current shopping spree of key independents across Europe includes Vale Music in Spain, ARS in Belgium, Magic in Poland, Lionheart in Sweden, Rounder Records, Sanctuary and now V2 in the UK. This is a clear tactic to gain market power and further acquisitions are expected in key territories. Universal already controls over 50% of the world's most popular music.
IMPALA has asked EC Commissioner Kroes to completely rethink her approach to music mergers and impose innovative remedies that will narrow the unacceptable gap between the majors and the independents, to re-dynamise the whole sector in the interests of music fans and artists as well as entrepreneurs. IMPALA points out that she has ignored the duopoly between Universal and SonyBMG. These two companies alone have over 50% of the market and 70% of the vital Top 100 in many key EU territories (EC's own market share analysis in UniBMG).
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