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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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US court to rule on MP3 resales

Category : World News

EMI goes to court to prevent a US online service buying and reselling digital music tracks – in a case which may set a legal precedent.

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Universal-EMI deal: the day the music died

Category : Business

More than 100 years of British musical history extinguished after a sorry tale of greed, piracy, incompetence – and, even, records

“I knew I was out of luck the day the music died,” sang Don McLean on American Pie, still available on EMI. It is a competitive field as to when this event happened but the pointless, unnecessary dismemberment of the 115-year-old UK record company has to be in the dismal top 10. The world’s most concentrated media market, with four players, is reduced to three.

Friday’s approval by the European Commission means EMI will broken up into at least three. The Motown and other song catalogues had already been sold to a consortium led by Sony. Now Universal Music, the global market leader in recordings, is being allowed to buy most of EMI’s record labels – with Brussels insisting on the sale of the Parlophone label and EMI’s half of Now! That’s What I Call Music.

How needless. Overambition got to Guy Hands, who showed that music and private equity don’t go together, injecting the business with too much debt against a backdrop of endemic piracy. Citigroup snatched the keys, and insisted on a unnecessary sale process, when the bank could have demerged instead. European regulators failed by allowing Citigroup’s break-up plan to go through – thinking it reasonable to allow Universal to increase its global market share from 29% to about 36%. Sony is next at 22%.

Had EMI been a chocolate-maker there might at least have been some concern about a break-up and takeover. But because it operates in the music industry – one of the few areas where Britain leads the world – nobody in Westminster cares. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour raised any concern.

The result? Most likely, less choice for aspiring artists. Digital music startups acting in thrall to a handful of companies. Fewer records likely to be released. EMI falls, a victim of capitalism unconstrained. There can be no coda to that.

EMI: Now that’s what I call messing up

Category : Business

This needless breakup of a top quality British label is a loss for all lovers of music

“The day the music died … ” observed Don McLean in American Pie, still available from EMI. It is a competitive field as to when this event happened but the pointless, unnecessary dismemberment of the 115-year-old British record company has to be in the dismal top 10. The world’s most concentrated media market, with four players, is reduced to three.

The approval by the European commission means EMI will broken up into at least three. The Motown and other song catalogues had already been sold to a consortium led by Sony. Now Universal Music, the market leader in recordings, is being allowed to buy most of EMI’s record labels – with Brussels insisting on the offsetting divestment of the Parlophone label and EMI’s half of Now That’s What I Call Music.

How needless. Over-ambition got to Guy Hands, who showed that music and private equity don’t go together, injecting the business with too much debt against a backdrop of endemic piracy. Citigroup snatched the keys, and insisted on an unnecessary sale process, when it could have been demerged instead. European regulators failed by allowing Citigroup’s breakup plan to go through, thinking it reasonable to let Universal increase its global market share from 29% to about 36%. Sony is next on 22%.

Had EMI been a chocolate-maker there might at least have been some concern about a breakup and takeover. But because it operates in the music industry – one of the few areas where Britain leads the world – nobody in Westminster cares. Neither Conservatives nor Labour raised any concern.

The result? Most probably, less choice for aspiring artists. Digital music startups acting in thrall to a handful of companies. Fewer records likely to be released. EMI falls, a victim of capitalism unconstrained. There can be no coda to that.

EMI-Universal deal gets approval

Category : World News

EU and US regulators approve Universal Music’s takeover of EMI, but some of the merged firm’s most valuable labels must be sold off.

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EMI-Universal deal gets approval

Category : World News

EU and US regulators approve Universal Music’s takeover of EMI, but some of the merged firm’s most valuable labels must be sold off.

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US politicians warn of competition issues over Universal-EMI deal

Category : Business

Senate’s anti-trust panel says Universal Music’s £1.2bn acquisition of EMI could threaten the development of new digital music services

Universal Music’s £1.2bn acquisition of EMI could be heading into regulatory trouble in the US, after the head of the Senate’s anti-trust panel warned the Federal Trade Commission that the deal posed significant competition issues.

Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Lee, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate antitrust subcommittee respectively, have written a six-page letter to FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz urging him to closely scrutinise the deal to see if it will substantially injure competition in violation of anti-trust laws.

The letter raises several concerns, including that the new combined company could threaten the development of new digital music services and that CD prices could rise.

“We believe this proposed acquisition presents significant competition issues significant competition issues that merit careful FTC review to ensure that the transaction is not likely to cause substantial harm to competition in the affected markets,” the letter says.

The senators – fresh from a hearing in July that grilled music industry leaders about the deal, including Universal Music chief Lucian Grainge – say that the letter is a summary of the findings of the sub-committee’s investigation, not a judgment on whether the deal breaks competition law.

“The effect of the proposed acquisition on digital distribution of music, and particularly on the ability of new entrants to launch new services, is particularly critical to determining whether the acquisition will have any substantial anti-competitive effects,” the letter says.

The concerns of the US sub-committee echo those raised by the European regulator in a 200-page statement of objections delivered to Universal Music in July.

Those European Commission objections forced Universal Music, which had been bullish about driving the deal through with few concessions, to rethink its strategy and offer to sell more EMI assets: including Parlophone, but minus the Beatles; Mute; and Chrysalis, excluding Robbie Williams.

Observing the concessions being offered by Universal Music in Europe, the US body for independent music companies, A2IM, has called for a similar sell-off of assets in North America.

The music giant is under immense pressure as it has guaranteed to pay EMI’s owner Citibank the entire £1.2bn by the middle of September regardless of whether the deal goes through.

Universal, which is owned by Vivendi, has been given until the end of November to push the deal through.

Universal Music spokesman Peter Lofrumento said that the company always expected a thorough review of the deal but remained confident of gaining regulatory approval.

“Since our proposed acquisition was announced, we have expected a thorough and rigorous review of UMG’s acquisition of EMI from regulators in the United States,” he said.

“We appreciate the points raised in the joint letter from chairman Kohl and ranking member Lee, as well as the committee’s recognition of the historic changes in the music industry over the past decade.”

Lofrumento said that Universal Music had been working with the FTC to address a range of issues, and that it was supportive of new digital services.

“Since this deal was announced, we have worked closely with the Federal Trade Commission to address many of these issues, and will continue to do so,” he said.

“Our investment in EMI will create more opportunities for new and established artists, expand music output and consumer choice, and support new digital services. We remain confident of regulatory approval.”

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

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Universal Music must sell more assets to acquire EMI, Brussels says

Category : Business

Europe’s watchdog concerned that proposed $1.9bn takeover of EMI would create a behemoth with undue market power

Universal Music – home to Rihanna and U2 – has been told by the European Commission to offer additional concessions if the world’s largest music company is to have a chance of winning regulatory approval for its £1.2bn ($1.9bn) purchase of EMI.

The failure to win over Brussels quickly takes Universal, owned by French company Vivendi and run by Briton Lucian Grainge, closer to the point where it will be forced to hand over £1.2bn to EMI’s owner Citigroup – without necessarily having won the regulatory approval it needs to complete the transaction.

It is understood that the EC rejected Universal’s initial package of proposed divestments, which would have resulted in it offloading Virgin Records, home to the Spice Girls, and other smaller parts of its artist roster and recorded music catalogues to win approval for the purchase.

Earlier this week, Richard Branson, who owned Virgin Records until he sold it to EMI for $1bn in 1992 indicated that he could be interested in taking control of the unit in partnership with one time business colleague, Patrick Zelnick, from Naive Records of France.

Taken together, Universal Music and EMI would account for about 40% of the music sold worldwide, in a market with only two other significant players, Sony Music and Warner Music. With such a large market position in prospect, the takeover has been scrutinised by the EC and the Federal Trade Commission in the United States.

Had the EC been sympathetic to Universal’s initial offer of divestments, the regulator would have informally sounded out third parties in the industry, a process known as “market testing”. But it is understood that the commission this week declined to market test the package that was on offer, prompting Universal to consider more sales of record labels or its catalogue.

Universal had hoped that it would meet an EC deadline of this week to begin the market testing process, which in turn would have given the French owned music group a chance to win regulatory approval for the EMI buyout before Brussels shuts down for the summer. However, the commission may now chose to extend its delibrations into September, creating a further headache for parent company Vivendi.

When Universal agreed to buy EMI from Citigroup in November of last year, owner Vivendi agreed that it would pay Citigroup £1.2bn 10 months later, regardless of whether it had won regulatory approval.

The deadline passes in mid-September and in theory Vivendi will have to hand money over to the US bank, although it is understood that the payment could be delayed for a period if negotiations in Brussels were close to reaching a conclusion. Citigroup ended up owning EMI after it decided to foreclose on its loans to Guy Hands’s Terra Firma, after it concluded that EMI under Hands could not handle its debt load.

The prospect of handing over £1.2bn to Citigroup is particularly embarassing for Vivendi at a time when the French the future direction of the media and technology conglomerate is uncertain following the ousting of group CEO Jean-Bernard Levy. Vivendi has been conducting a strategic review, under chairman Jean Rene Fourtou, which has led to contemplate possible sales of some business units, including its majority shareholding in Activision, the computer games developer, and its Morroccan telephone business.

Negotiations between the EC and Universal are understood to be continuing.

EU competition regulator to probe Universal’s planned takeover of EMI

Category : Business

Concerns by rivals that Universal could dominate the music market if £1.2bn deal goes ahead may be justified

The European Union’s competition regulator has launched an in-depth probe of Universal Music Group’s planned acquisition of part of British music company EMI, home to the Beatles, Coldplay and Katy Perry.

Universal Music, which is owned by the French media company Vivendi, announced in November that it would buy EMI’s recorded-music division for £1.2bn.

At the same time, a consortium led by Sony Music’s Sony/ATV said it would pay about £1.3bn for EMI’s publishing arm. The EU will decide on 2 April whether to also take a closer look at Sony’s side of the deal.

The deal has been vehemently opposed by rivals, such as Warner Music and small independent music labels, which fear that Universal and Sony would dominate a market that is already under strain from illegal music downloads.

In its statement on Friday, the European Commission indicated that those concerns may be justified.

Buying EMI’s recorded-music arm would make Universal almost twice the size of its next largest competitor in Europe, the EC said.

Notably, it added that even the threat of music piracy did not appear to be a sufficient constraint on the new company.

“The proposed acquisition could reduce competition in the recorded music market to the detriment of European consumers,” the EU’s competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, said in a statement. “The commission needs to make sure that consumers continue to have access to a wide variety of music in different physical and digital formats at competitive conditions.”

Universal said the in-depth probe had been expected. “We will continue to cooperate fully with [the commission] and look forward to a successful resolution of the process,” it said.

The commission now has until 8 August to decide whether to clear the deal. If the in-depth investigation confirms its concerns, Vivendi which has already announced that it will sell some £418m in non-core assets, could offer to sell off more to secure the deal.

EMI was put up for sale by Citigroup, after the bank foreclosed on private equity firm Terra Firma, which bought the music company for $6.8bn in 2007.

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

• To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook .

Regulators probe Universal’s EMI bid

Category : Business

Competition commission to investigate deal that would create music company twice the size of its nearest rival

European Union antitrust regulators have opened an in-depth investigation of Universal’s £1.2bn bid to buy EMI’s recorded music unit, saying the proposed deal could reduce competition.

Brussels said the combined entity would be almost twice the size of its nearest rival in Europe.

“[We need] to make sure that consumers continue to have access to a wide variety of music in different physical and digital formats at competitive conditions,” EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

The European commission said it would decide by 8 August whether to clear or block the deal.

Universal said it had always expected the commission to carry out an in-depth investigation.

“We will continue to co-operate fully with them and look forward to a successful resolution of the process,” it said in a statement.

According to a source, Universal decided not to offer concessions to the EU watchdog during its preliminary assessment of the deal, but would consider doing so in the second phase of the review.

EMI owner Citigroup took control of the record label, whose artists have included the Beatles, Queen and Coldplay, after its previous owner Guy Hands’ buyout shop Terra Firma defaulted on loans owed to the investment bank.

The commission has asked rivals and consumer groups whether the Universal deal, and a Sony-led plan to acquire EMI’s music publishing business for £1.4bn, will result in higher prices and also shut out competitors.

A questionnaire sent by the European commission and seen by Reuters asked whether artists would be able to switch record labels easily and at a reasonable cost once the two deals were completed.

Both Universal and the Sony-led group were expected to argue that strong competition in the music business meant their acquisitions would not restrict competition and that online music distributors such as Apple and Amazon have more power in terms of pricing.

Impala, a lobbying group for independent music companies, has urged EU regulators to block both deals.

Rival Warner, which had also sought to buy EMI’s recorded music, was expected to warn the commission about the risks of an overly concentrated market.

86% Chemical Brothers: Don’t Think

Category : World News

For nearly two decades, the Chemical Brothers “mind-bending” audiovisual live show has played to packed houses and festivals across the globe, but it has never been captured on film until now. NCM Fathom, Omniverse and EMI Music come together to…

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