| 25 May 2024
Sony Corp's $750m Michael Jackson buyout deal cleared

MUMBAI: The Sony Corporation of America’s move to buy out Michael Jackson’s 50% stake in its music publishing division Sony/ATV has been cleared by the European Commission.

The bid for US$750 million (A$996.6 million) had been fiercely opposed by the likes of Warner Music Group, the Independent Music Publishers Forum (IMPF) and indie label body IMPALA, which claimed it would give Sony too much market power.

According to the IMPF, Sony/ATV already has 30% of the global music publishing sector, and the acquisition would "put further strain on pricing and give Sony/ATV, even more, negotiating power on deal terms with over the top companies in the music market."

Sony/ATV is already the world’s largest publisher in terms of catalogue size: in addition to its own catalogue and administration of EMI Music Publishing, it controls over 4.2 million songs.

But the EU rejected their concerns, saying, “The transaction will not materially increase Sony’s market power vis-a-vis digital music providers compared to the situation prior to the merger.”

Google was also interested in buying Jackson’s share of the publisher. Now with its new acquisition, Sony could become a bigger player than Universal Music. In 2012, Warner and Impala protested Universal Music Group’s £1.2 billion ($2.1 billion) acquisition of EMI Music in the EU. The EU watchdog came down tough, forcing it to sell the Parlophone label, which includes perennial big sellers as David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Blur, Kate Bush and Coldplay. Parlophone was later sold to Warner Music Group for £487 million ($$853 million).

Also, that year when Sony/ATV was part of a consortium to purchase EMI Music Publishing for $2.2 billion ($2.92 billion), it had to sell assets as Virgin Music and Famous UK Music Publishing. These are now owned by BMG.