BRUSSELS, June 21 Vivendi's Universal
Music Group has until July 3 to counter EU regulatory concerns
on its planned purchase of EMI's recorded music unit for $1.9
billion, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Universal said on Tuesday that the European Commission had
formally set out its objections to the EMI deal, which would
combine its stars such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna with the British
music label's catalogues including The Beatles and Katy Perry.
The 194-page statement of objections could put pressure on
Universal to offer to sell some catalogues or propose improved
licensing deals to rivals and online services to get clearance
for the takeover.
A consortium led by Sony secured EU approval to buy
EMI's separate music publishing business in April after agreeing
to sell some catalogues.
EMI seller Citigroup Inc took over the record label
after its previous owner, Guy Hands' buyout firm Terra Firma,
defaulted on loans owed to the investment bank.
Last week, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia
expressed concerns about the market power of the combined group,
almost twice the size of its nearest rival in Europe, and its
impact on the digital music market.
He will decide by Sept. 6 whether to clear or block the
acquisition, which is opposed by independent rivals and
competitor Warner. Universal could ask for an oral hearing to
plead its case before the decision.
Universal said the deal has secured its first regulatory
clearance after competition enforcers in New Zealand gave the
"The New Zealand Commerce Commission today notified us that
they have approved Universal Music's acquisition of EMI Recorded
Music -- the first jurisdiction in the world to do so with this
transaction," the music company said in a statement.
Universal will be seeking to convince U.S. lawmakers on the
merits of the deal at a congressional hearing on Thursday, with
big-name allies to back it up.