Sen. Herb Kohl, chairman of the Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, is planning to hold hearings on Universal Music Group's proposed merger with EMI Music, a union that would give Universal roughly 40% of the U.S. market for recorded music.
No date has been set, according to Kohl's spokeswoman, Dawn Schueller.
Kohl, a Democrat from Wisconsin, was outspoken against AT&T's proposed $39-billion purchase of T-Mobile last year, a deal that failed after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said it would oppose the merger. Congressional hearings have no formal sway over antitrust regulators who ultimately have the option of trying to block mergers in court.
Universal, in a statement, responded, "We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions that the subcommittee may have, address the facts and debunk myths. Universal Music is committed to reinvesting in EMI to create even more opportunities for new and established artists, expand the marketplace with more music and support new digital services. We remain confident of regulatory approval."
Its $1.9-billion bid for EMI is currently under review at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as well as the European Commission. Neither has spoken for or against the proposed transaction.
European regulators earlier this year approved a separate bid by Sony Corp. to purchase EMI's publishing business for $2.2 billion, provided that Sony sold off some of its catalog.
-- Alex Pham
Photo: Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay, a band signed with EMI Music. Credit: Rafa Rivas / Getty Images.