EU Reconsiders Stance on EMI Warner Deal

The European Commission confirmed Wednesday it is calling back national competition regulators for a meeting to discuss new concessions from Warner Brothers Music and EMI in their bid to get approval for their planned joint venture.

"There will be another advisory committee meeting on Thursday," said Commission spokesman Michael Tscherny.

Tscherny wouldn't confirm reports that the new concessions include the sale by EMI of Virgin Records Ltd. and Warner's Chappell Music subsidiary. A source close to the Commission said calling such a meeting is complicated and is only done if the new concessions are deemed substantial enough to reverse the Commission's opinion on the deal. The Commission had indicated that it was on course to block the joint venture because it was deemed to have a stranglehold on the European music industry.

When the EMI-Time Warner deal is tuned down, or even blocked by the Commission, the regulators' concerns, that AOL Time Warner Inc. will dominate the online music business, will be removed.

A national regulator told IDG News Service that "if the Commission's problems with the EMI joint venture are resolved either way, then that removes the major impediment in the way of the Time Warner/AOL merger."

The Commission must rule on the EMI/Warner Music joint venture by Oct. 18. The deadline for the AOL/Time Warner merger is Oct. 24.

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