The stock market is getting tetchy: what's taking the Bertlesmann deal to take-over EMI so long to get done? Bertlesmann has even been working hard to cool stock market anticipation that a deal was "imminent". Talks between the two have been underway since mid-November but it is now expected to be the end of January before a deal is reached, or not.

Bertlesmann says it has a lot to check out and analyse about the deal. Knowing how EMI has operated over the years there's probably some skeletons in some closets! However, BMG says that "slow but steady" progress has been made and the main things it is addressing are: price (obviously!); management structure (how to get rid of the EMI suits without paying them too much, I'd wager!); and perhaps more importantly, a strategy for getting the deal pass anti-trust and competition regulators. The management issues are said to be "sensitive", I guess because some of the EMI bigwigs will still want some semblance of power even though it's their company getting taken over by BMG, not the other way round.

The antitrust issues are what will really prove whether the deal will fly. If the deal is done, the European Commission seems to have recognized that the major music groups will have decreased from five to four (like duh!), which is just the right number to dominate the entire market, even more.

At this stage the way to getting past the antitrust regulators would appear to be disposing of one of the EMI-owned labels. The Virgin label has already been highlighted, but whether the geezers at EMI will be able to bear parting with that remains to be seem. Then again, their company is falling about around their ears and looking like the playground whipping boy!

It's all about money, pure and simple. Making money not music seems to be prime directive for the music industry - isn't everything now back to front?