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EMI Group PLC and Time Warner Co.’s Warner Music Group are offering last-ditch concessions in an attempt to secure European Union regulatory approval for their planned $20 billion music joint venture, Warner EMI Music. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm charged with reviewing the EMI-Warner link-up on regulatory grounds, said Monday that the U.K and New York-based companies made an informal offer of concessions that is expected to be formalized soon. Under EU competition law, the companies must submit their last offer of concessions one month before the commission’s in-depth inquiry ends. EMI-Warner has until midnight today to propose a plan offering solutions to address the EU’s competition worries. Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said a formula of concessions was outlined in an hour-long meeting between top-level executives from both companies and European Commissioner for Competition Mario Monti at the Commission’s offices in Brussels Monday morning. The senior executives who sought regulatory approval included Eric Nicoli and Richard Parsons, who have been appointed co-chairmen of Warner EMI Music, and the venture’s CEO Roger Ames and COO Ken Berry. Torres declined to detail the concessions outlined Monday or to comment further on whether they appear to address the EU competition concerns. “At this stage it is impossible to say anything else regarding the content of the proposals and what our view is,” she said. “We need to examine these proposals and they need to be formalized by the parties. We will be studying those, we will be testing them on the market.” Once an offer of formal concessions is made in an EU in-depth merger review, the commission consults with competitors in the market to determine whether the proposal fully restores the balance of healthy competition. Once the market testing is complete, the commission will draft a decision to be circulated to an advisory committee of competition experts representing all 15 EU member states. Although the role of the committee is limited to giving an opinion on the commission’s draft decision, the commission has customarily sought its backing before its final decision. A definitive date has not been set for the commission to make its ruling on Warner EMI Music, but a decision must be made before the final cutoff date, Oct 18. Copyright (c)2000 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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