Universal Music Group Chairman Lucian Grainge and EMI Group CEO Roger Faxon will appear before the antitrust subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday, June 21 to defend plans for Universal to buy EMI's recorded music division. Live Nation Chairman Irving Azoff also will testify in support of the deal, according to a Reuters report. The proposed transaction, which was announced in November, is worth $1.9 billion.
Three critics of the purchase also are set to testify against the deal, including Warner Music Group board member Edgar Bronfman, Jr.,Beggars Group Chairman Martin Mills and Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn.
The sale of EMI's catalog to Universal has drummed up plenty of controversy, with critics saying that it would give Universal control of 40 percent of the recorded music market, thus giving it too much power to dictate prices in the industry. In May, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) announced that the antitrust subcommittee would be holding these hearings to examine the issue.
The Federal Trade Commission also is reviewing the deal to ensure that it complies with antitrust law, and in Europe, where officials also are conducting an antitrust review, the European Commission is preparing a formal "statement of objections." Universal has said it would work with the Commission to get the deal approved, most likely by selling some assets. However, a recentReuters report said that Universal has not offered any such concessions thus far.