Universal Music boss Lucian Grainge has confirmed to the Financial Times that his company will offer to sell some assets in order to win European Commission approval for its bid to buy the EMI record company.
Officially speaking, the major has previously said it believed it could secure regulator approval for its big deal without offering any remedies, though imminent concessions have been rumoured for sometime now, and are expected to be formally discussed between the music firm and EC regulators later this month.
In an interview with the FT, Grainge confirmed that Universal would offer to offload assets in those territories where critics say the major would be far too dominant if it is allowed to acquire EMI Music, though in the main he was much more keen to discuss how Universal would provide a cash boost to the EMI’s under-resourced A&R teams (whose budgets were excessively cut under the old Terra Firma regime, he said), while also spearheading a “manifesto for the new music industry” to help digital start-ups with grand plans.
As his company heads into a number of face to face meetings with regulators this month (though a full oral hearing has been declined), Grainge told the paper: “I’m extremely open-minded about working with the [European] Commission in the context of behavioural remedies as well as divestitures”.
Adding that he saw “a new world, with new platforms, new entrepreneurs, where we can all come together and create value”, Grainge also threw in a bit of nationalism for the UK paper, honing in on the fact that, while he may run a French-owned music company from the US, he’s British, and Britain’s EMI would be in safe hands as part of his group. “I’m British. I want to see EMI back to where it was when I wanted to get a job there”, he concluded.
Whether such talk will win over EC regulators this month remains to be seen – most reckon officials will be most interested in what assets Universal would be willing to sell as part of the deal.
In related news, it was confirmed by Music Week this morning that the Universal/EMI deal has been given the go ahead by regulators in Japan.