SBD/Issue 100/Facilities & Venues

Live Nation, Ticketmaster To Form Live Nation Entertainment

Live Nation and Ticketmaster yesterday "unveiled an all-stock deal to merge in an attempt to create what would be the most powerful company in live-music business," according to Ethan Smith of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The companies said that based on present valuations, the new company, to be called Live Nation Entertainment Inc., "would have a stock-market value of $816[M] and combined debt of $1.67[B]." Their "combined annual revenue would be about" $6B. No cash is to "change hands in the deal, in which Live Nation is the acquiring party." Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff, who would serve as Exec Chair of the new company, said that the companies' combined resources "would give it clout ... to bring in more corporate-sponsorship money than either of the companies could on its own." Azoff said that "could allow the new company to tackle one of the issues that has riled fans for years: rising ticket prices and the fees Ticketmaster tacks onto them." The companies "expect the deal to close in the second half of the year, pending shareholder approval and regulatory review by the Justice Department's antitrust division" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/11). Azoff said, "The goal of this company is going to be to get more artists to work and fill more venues and fill more seats." The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Paul Bond notes Live Nation owns about 140 venues, while Ticketmaster "runs 6,700 retail outlets and sold 141 million tickets in 2007 valued at more than" $8.3B (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/11). In N.Y., Tim Arango reports Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino "will have the same title with the new company" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/11).

FACING OPPOSITION: In Newark, Peggy McGlone in a front-page story notes the merger "drew immediate criticism yesterday from lawmakers and others who fear the two will create an illegal entertainment monopoly." U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) "sharply condemned the proposed agreement, calling it a 'major disappointment for music fans all around the world.'" Pascrell: "Any merger that would consolidate so many aspects of the concert business under one roof must be carefully scrutinized for anti-trust violations." Pascrell "warned the merger will drive up concert prices, a charge Ticketmaster [Chair & CEO] Barry Diller denied." Diller said, "Ticketmaster does not set prices, Live Nation does not set ticket prices. Artists set prices" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/11). Miami-based Tickets of America President & CEO Michael Lipman said that the deal was "'bad for the public' and possibly bad for venues not operated by Live Nation" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/11). In DC, David Montgomery writes of the merger, "What's in it for ticket buyers is far from clear. The era of the dreaded 'convenience charge' might be ending -- but there's no guarantee of lower ticket prices" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/11).

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