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News > Deals
Time, EMI make final play?
September 29, 2000: 7:30 a.m. ET

Music firms reportedly give more ground; EU may consider late offers
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LONDON (CNNfn) - EMI Group PLC and Time Warner Inc. have made an eleventh-hour attempt to rescue their planned $20 billion music venture by offering to sell a key asset, according to a published report Friday.

The two firms face having their attempt to create the world's largest music company thrown out by European Union regulators, and several reports Friday indicated rejection was imminent. However, the Wall Street Journal reported the firms had offered to sell U.K.-based record label Virgin Records and some music publishing businesses to try to overcome the regulator's objections to the venture.

A spokesman for the European Commission, the Brussels-based executive arm of the European Union, said Friday that late concessions were sometimes considered, but declined to comment on the negotiations.

"The deadline for concessions is past...commitments cannot be accepted late in the day unless (there are) exceptional circumstances," he said, declining to elaborate.

The Journal reported that European regulators had decided earlier this week to block the music venture between Time and EMI even after the two firms proposed a number of smaller divestments. The newspaper said the regulators' decision to reconvene next week was rare, but would allow the companies to make greater concessions in a last-gasp effort to get a green light.

The commission is due to rule on the deal in the next few weeks. It is also set to decide on Time Warner's  (TWX: Research, Estimates) plan to merge with America Online Inc.  (AOL: Research, Estimates) in a deal valued at up to $135 billion. That combination is far more likely to proceed, media reports said Friday, especially if the Time-EMI deal falls asunder.

EMI shares were down 4.5 percent at 530 pence in mid-session trading.

The European Commission has voiced its fears that a Time-EMI combination would reduce the number of global companies in the music industry from five to four, and could hand the new company a dominant position in the online delivery of music. Time and EMI's rivals on a worldwide basis are Sony Corp., Bertelsmann AG and Seagram Co. Back to top

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