Universal Music seeks EC approval on $1.9 bn acquisition of EMI recorded music unit

French media group Vivendi's Universal Music has approached the European regulator to approve its proposed $1.9-billion acquisition of London-based gramophone company EMI's recorded music division.

Brussels-based European Commission (EC) yesterday said that Universal Music had last week approached it to clear the deal, and it has set a 23 March target to decide whether to clear the proposed acquisition.

In November 2011, EMI, the 114-year-old gramophone company, was sold in an auction to Vivendi's Universal Music Group and Sony for $4.1 billion. (See: Universal Music, Sony to buy EMI from Citigroup for $4.1 billion)

Citigroup, the owner of EMI since February last year, sold EMI's recorded music division to Universal for $1.9 billion, and the smaller but more lucrative music publishing business to Sony-led consortium for $2.2 billion.

The two outbid rivals from Warner Music Group and BMG Chrysalis. Warner had bid for the recorded music unit, while BMG Chrysalis bid for EMI Publishing.

But battle lines have clearly been drawn throughout the industry with Impala, a coalition of Warner and European independent music companies, lobbying to block the deal.