Report: Ticketmaster And Live Nation Set To Merge
February 4, 2009 at 5:20 PM (PT)
TICKETMASTER ENTERTAINMENT and LIVE NATION are close to a merger, in a deal that would consolidate two of the most powerful forces in the music industry under one roof, reports THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
The newly created company would be called LIVE NATION TICKETMASTER, and would combine the world's biggest concert promoter with the world's dominant ticketing and artist-management company. The combined firm would be able to take advantage of close relationships with hundreds of major artists to find new ways to do business in the ailing music industry.
THE NEW YORK POST writes talks between the two companies are at an advanced stage and a vote on a deal could be put to LIVE NATION's board as soon as TODAY. The POST's source cautioned, however, that talks are at a delicate stage and could fall apart amid last-minute wrangling over finer points of a merger. The source said the deal is currently seen as a merger of equals, with the board of the combined company totaling 14 members to accommodate equal representation from both companies.
"LIVE NATION evidently wasn't TICKETMASTER's only option," according to a source. As recently as two weeks ago TICKETMASTER had a deal in principal to buy 50% of LIVE NATION rival ANSCHUTZ ENTERTAINMENT GROUP. But TICKETMASTER's board turned it down.
BARRY DILLER, CEO of TICKETMASTER parent company INTERACTIVECORP, will serve as chairman of the combined company, while LIVE NATION CEO MICHAEL RAPINO will be chief executive.
It's unclear what responsibilities TICKETMASTER CEO IRVING AZOFF, the legendary manager of THE EAGLES, GUNS N' ROSES and other classic acts, will have in the new company, though it is assumed that he will have some role, writes THE POST.
However, a story in FORBES on the imminent merger brings up a major sticking point to the consummation of such a deal: "A combined LIVE NATION-TICKETMASTER will face high-profile headwinds from an OBAMA Justice Department inquiry into whether the new company would constitute a monopoly in the struggling music industry."
The only legitimate national rival to such a merged entity would be AEG (which, as noted above, was close to with being acquired by TICKETMASTER just weeks ago). In FORBES' view, AEG "will argue that bringing the nation's largest ticketing system, the majority of arenas and amphitheaters and an artist management division responsible for top acts like GUNS N' ROSES, JIMMY BUFFETT and MILEY CYRUS under one roof will reduce its ability to compete ... They'd be right."
The Boss Ain't Happy
Throwing his two cents into this situation is BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. ROLLING STONE's website reports that THE BOSS is miffed at how TICKETMASTER is handling tickets for his imminent tour -- and he isn't real thrilled with the prospect of a LIVE NATION TICKETMASTER merger. "A final point for now: the one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be TICKETMASTER and LIVE NATION coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing," SPRINGSTEEN wrote in his own website. "If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives."