EU approves Sony-Mubadala, EMI deal

$2.2bn takeover holds rights to stars like Rihanna

European competition regulators Thursday approved a $2.2 billion takeover by Japan's Sony and Emirates investors of EMI Music Publishing which holds the rights to global pop stars such as Rihanna.

The European Commission said the approval was conditional on Sony and its partners in the Mubadala investment fund selling off the music publishing rights to other artists including Ozzy Osbourne, the European Commission said.

"Sony and Mubadala have offered to divest valuable and attractive catalogues," said European Union competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia, with the deal also covering Virgin's rights on 12 artists, including Robbie Williams.

Sony, in partnership with Michael Jackson's estate, already owns hundreds of thousands of song titles, including the publishing rights to the Beatles and Bob Dylan, but will now add the Motown output of the 1960s onwards as well as contemporary artists such as Jay-Z, P!nk, Adele or Norah Jones.

"In light of these commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns," the EU said in its statement.

The Commission said its main concern had been over the control of the online licensing of Anglo-American chart hits with the internet now the key delivery platform for the music industry to reach consumers.

Media reports in the States say Sony plans to eliminate more than 300 jobs at EMI Publishing.

A deal was struck last year to split EMI's record labels and its music publishing business.

Publishing sees royalties paid to artists when their work is played, recorded or sold.

Vivendi subsidiary Universal Music Group agreed to pay US bank Citigroup ê1.9 billion for that catalogue, which notably contains the Beatles' recordings.

Last month, the EU Commission opened an in-depth competition investigation into that sale.

Home to a galaxy of stars including Coldplay and US pop starlet Katy Perry, EMI was seized by its main creditor Citigroup in February 2011 from private equity owner Terra Firma.