Sony-EMI deal expected to win approval today

A Sony-led consortium is set to get the green light from European regulators for its takeover of EMI’s music publishing business.

The $2.2 billion deal would make Sony the world’s biggest music publisher, with more than a quarter of the global publishing market. Sony currently has about 750,000 songs – including the Beatles catalog – and EMI has 1.3 million.

The deal’s still awaiting approval in the US, Australia and Brazil.

EMI’s being broken up after running up unsustainable debts. Universal Music’s hoping to take over its recorded music division, in a $1.9 billion deal which is also under regulatory scrutiny.

Unsurprisingly, both proposals have received strong criticism from competitors including Warner Music and smaller publishers. But artists’ unions have given the Universal deal a cautious welcome.

According to the Financial Times, Sony’s sweetened the pill for the European Commission by promising to sell several music catalogs, including Virgin Records – a concession that could cost it as much as $33 million a year.

Sony and the Michael Jackson estate would hold about 38 percent of EMI, with the rest owned by investors Mubadala of Abu Dhabi, Jynwel Capital of Malaysia, GSO Capital Partners and David Geffen.

According to the New York Times, Sony plans to cut over 300 jobs at EMI Publishing if the deal goes ahead – about 60 percent of staff.