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Music giant EMI Group sold for $4.1 billion

– EMI Group Ltd., the iconic British music company that is home to the Beatles, Coldplay and Katy Perry, is being split and sold for $4.1 billion.

The deals will open EMI’s buyers, Universal Music and Sony/ATV, to regulatory scrutiny as they increase their dominance of the music industry.

Universal Music Group said Friday that it will pay $1.9 billion for the recording division, joining Universal artists including Lady Gaga and Eminem with EMI superstars such as David Guetta and Lady Antebellum.

A consortium led by Sony/ATV reached a separate deal to pay $2.2 billion for EMI’s publishing division, according to a person familiar with the matter. That business is in charge of songwriting copyrights for such artists as Rihanna and Adele. The person wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sony/ATV, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and the Michael Jackson estate, is a 38 percent partner in the consortium.

The other parties were not immediately known.

The two-part sale, if approved by regulators, would further increase Universal Music’s dominance in recorded music and springboard Sony/ATV into the top spot as a music publisher, according to Impala, an association of European independent music companies that is against the deal.

The purchases would give Universal Music and Sony/ATV undue negotiating power over artists and distributors of music, even powerhouses such as Apple Inc.’s iTunes, Impala said.

Both deals are expected to be carefully reviewed in Europe, the U.S., Japan and Australia. Even if regulators approve, they could force the sale of key assets or attach other terms.

In the United States, Universal is the top music producer with a 30 percent market share compared with EMI’s 9 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

With a combined share of 39 percent, they would tower over Sony at 29 percent and Warner Music at 19 percent.

Vivendi, parent company of Universal Music, said that London-based EMI would find a safe home at a company headquartered not far away in Paris.

“For me, as an Englishman, EMI was the pre-eminent music company that I grew up with,” Universal CEO Lucian Grainge said.

Grainge said he would ensure the famous Beatles’ recording studio, Abbey Road Studios, would remain open as a “symbol of British culture.”

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