Edgar Bronfman Jr., Warner Music Group's former chief executive and outgoing chairman, said his company would oppose the sale of EMI Group to Warner's two biggest rivals, saying the deals would reduce competition.
Bronfman himself had vied to buy EMI's recorded music business last year, but was outbid by Universal Music Group's $1.9-billion cash offer. EMI at the same time also agreed to sell its music publishing operation for $2.2 billion to a consortium of investors led by Sony ATV, a division of Sony Corp.
In a parting shot, Bronfman on Tuesday, his last day as chairman of Warner, told an audience at a media conference in Dana Point that EMI's sale was "dangerous" because the concentration of market share would stifle innovation and reduce payments to musicians they represent. Bronfman said Warner would "fight tooth and nail" to convince antitrust regulators to stop the deals.
A Warner spokesman confirmed Bronfman's comments, made at the D: Dive Into Media conference hosted by the Wall Street Journal, but declined to elaborate on how the company will work to thwart the sale of EMI. Sony also declined to comment on Bronfman's remarks, and messages to Universal were not immediately returned.
The deal, which would reduce the number of major record labels from four to three and the number of big publishing companies from five to four, is currently wending its way through regulatory scrutiny in both Europe and the U.S.
Regulators so far have not raised any antitrust concerns, but aren't expected to make a determination for at least several more months.
Bronfman also took a swipe at Google Music, calling the digital music store an "oxymoron." Warner is the only major label to abstain from selling its music on Google's online store, launched in November. It's unclear how he felt Google's efforts into music were contradictory, but Bronfman followed up his comment by suggesting that the Silicon Valley search giant places more value on the platform delivering content more than the content itself.
— Alex Pham
Photo: Edgar Bronfman Jr. Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images.