London 21 September 2012
Reacting to the European Commission's decision to allow Universal's acquisition of EMI, albeit subject to extensive divestments, Charles Caldas, CEO of Merlin has issued a statement as follows:
"Merlin is disappointed that Universal has been allowed to enhance its market leading position - even to a limited degree. That said, the concessions Universal has had to make to get this deal through are significant, and must make this a very different deal to the one Universal originally envisioned.
“Merlin's concerns remain as they have from the start - to ensure the development of a healthy and competitive digital music sector. In that context, we now have to face the possibility that the digital market could be dictated and controlled by two super majors (Universal and Sony), which would not be a healthy outcome. Therefore, Universal's enforced global divestments, including what appears to be the majority of EMI in Europe, must now involve buyers who can ensure effective ongoing competition in the digital market".
Merlin is the global rights agency representing the world's most significant set of independent music companies. Merlin commenced operations in May 2008. Since then it has struck deals with a large number of digital services including Spotify, YouTube, Google Music, Rdio and Simfy and reached a number of copyright infringement settlements on behalf of its members with amongst others Limewire, XM Satellite Radio and Grooveshark. Merlin acts to ensure its members have effective access to new and emerging revenue streams and that their rights are appropriately valued and protected.
A list of Merlin's board members and further information on Merlin is available at: http://www.merlinnetwork.org/board/
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent European independent music companies. One of IMPALA's missions is to keep the music market as open and competitive as possible. IMPALA has an impressive record on competition cases in the music sector. The first EMI/Warner merger was withdrawn in 2001 following objections from the EU after IMPALA intervened, in its first year of existence. It also won a landmark judgment in 2006 in the Sony/BMG case, and when Sony acquired 30% of EMI publishing in 2012, it was at the cost of significant divestments. The biggest set of remedies proportionately ever in a merger case was secured later that year, when UMG was forced to sell two thirds of EMI records and had to accept ten years of scrutiny over the terms of its digital deals. When WMG bought Parlophone in 2013, IMPALA secured a hefty divestments package for its members. On top of mergers, IMPALA has also been involved in other anti-trust cases involving the music sector, such as the abuse complaint against YouTube in 2014 and the call for regulating unfair business practices by large online players. IMPALA has also submitted observations on Apple’s bid to acquire Shazam. See the organisation's other key achievements in IMPALA's milestones.