Universal Music Group will reportedly offer "major concessions" to the European Commission by tomorrow night, according to The Wall Street Journal, in its quest for approval of its deal for EMI Music. UMG had been expected to turn in its plan to the EU regulators by Tuesday. "We are continuing to work constructively with the European Commission," Universal said in a statement, "and we remain confident of clearance."
Barclays PLC analyst Julien Roch released a report yesterday, predicting that UMG would need to sell off 50 percent of EMI Music at a major discount, to receive approval from the EC.
Meanwhile, there seems to be a difference of opinion at the European music trade group IMPALA. Yesterday, Impala released a statement re-iterating that it opposes the UMG-EMI deal. However, this statement was in reaction to the organization's co-President Patrick Zelnik coming out in favor of the deal.
Zelnik said in an opinion piece for the Financial Times that "For 12 years at IMPALA ... I have fought concentration in the music industry. However, as Universal Music awaits regulatorsí verdict on its £1.2bn bid for EMIís recorded music division, I think it could be just what the sector need s... as I contemplate EMIís fall from grace and the way it was ravished by private equity, I can see that in the right circumstances this merger could create a more competitive industry, while offering stability to EMIís artists."
In his column, Zelnik also agrees with UMG's position that "digital giants" such as Apple and Facebook make the major labels look small by comparison, and those companies should increase the amount of revenue paid out to the music industry. He adds that the new UMG-EMI could serve as a model for the future of the music industry, "giving entrepreneurial platforms access to label repertoires on a non-discriminatory, transparent basis Ė in return for a commitment to direct traffic towards legal and affordable services."
Also yesterday, Virgin Records founder Richard Branson says if the label goes up for sale by UMG, he will bid to re-acquire it. Zelnik is a former Virgin executive and according to Bloomberg, would be involved if Branson makes a bid for Virgin.