Vivendi Deal Passes in Europe

European regulators approved the estimated $2.1 billion purchase by Vivendi of the Bertelsmann music publishing group, a deal that will give Vivendi unmatched market power in determining how much performers and songwriters earn from their creations.

According to a report in The New York Times, the acquisition of the BMG Music Publishing, which is expected to close shortly, means that the Universal Music Group of Vivendi, already the world’s biggest record company, will also become the biggest music publisher. That distinction previously belonged to the publishing division of the EMI Group.

Universal already controls both recording and publishing rights for performers including U2 and 50 Cent. The new deal adds other performers, including Rammstein and Keane. Universal will also control publishing from acts under other labels, including Coldplay.

The regulators in Brussels expressed concern that the combined company would exert too much power, particularly as the industry sells more music through digital services and mobile phones. To ward off regulatory opposition, Universal said it would shed certain publishing catalogs from Zomba Music and Rondor UK.