EU Extends Review of Universal’s EMI Music Bid Until Sept. 6

European Union regulators extended until Sept. 6 their review of Universal Music Group’s bid for the recorded-music business of EMI Group.

The companies requested the extension, according to a filing on the European Commission’s website today. The EU antitrust agency last week opened an in-depth probe into the deal to examine competition concerns over sales of physical and digital recorded music.

“This is a standard procedural option” which gives the EU more time to consider companies’ arguments “with a view to disposing of the case as early as possible,” said Adam White, a spokesman for Vivendi SA’s Universal in London.

Universal would be “almost twice the size of the next largest player” in Europe, the EU said last week when it announced its investigation, and may not be “sufficiently constrained” by smaller rivals, customers’ buying power or illegal music downloads. The probe will confirm or rule out those concerns.

Citigroup Inc. agreed in November to sell EMI Group’s recorded-music and publishing businesses in separate transactions for a combined $4.1 billion. Universal will buy EMI’s record labels, home to Katy Perry and Coldplay, for 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion). A Sony Corp.-led group that includes billionaire David Geffen will pay $2.2 billion for the publishing unit, according to statements in November.

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