EMI’s sale to Universal approved by European Commission

Deal approved, but some of EMI's most valuable assets to be sold off

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The takeover of EMI by Universal Music has been approved by the European Commission, but it must sell off some of the firm’s most treasured labels.

The European Commission has given a green light to the proposed £1.2bn takeover of EMI by Universal Music, following a competition-based investigation. But it has ordered that some of the label’s assets must be sold, including a host of iconic labels such as EMI Classics and Parlophone.

The EMI Classics label includes a huge range of classical artists, ranging from conducting legends such as Herbert von Karajan, Bernard Haitink and Otto Klemperer to opera stars such as sopranos Maria Callas and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Its contemporary line-up of artists includes soprano Joyce DiDonato and Rolando Villazón. Meanwhile, the iconic label Parlophone is currently home to the likes of Blur and Coldplay.

But before it goes ahead, the takeover by Universal (owned by French media giant Vivendi) still needs approval from the US Federal Trade Commission.

With a history dating back to 1897, EMI became one of the major world labels in the 1960s, before a gradual decline which culminated in 2007 when EMI was sold to Terra Firma and major artists started deserting the label, including Paul McCartney and Radiohead.

Welcoming the decision, a spokesperson for Universal said: ‘Today’s approval brings to an end an extensive EU regulatory review and the acquisition will benefit the artistic community and music industry.’