NYSE Debuts Live Nation

Live Nation (formerly the live entertainment arm of Clear Channel) officially launched as a new company on the New York Stock Exchange December 22nd.

By the end of the first day of trading, the fledgling company’s stock shares had reached a high of $11.12 before closing at $10.60, down from the previous day’s close of $10.85 in “when issued” trading. Volume was more than 4 million shares.

Former parent company Clear Channel Communications saw its stock rise 57 cents per share, from $31.15 to $31.72 at the end of trading December 22nd.

No sooner than the first trading day ended, Live Nation announced its board has authorized a $150 million share repurchase program, effective immediately. The repurchase program is authorized through December 31, 2006.

According to the statement, Live Nation “will base its decisions on amounts of repurchases and their timing on such factors as the stock price, general economic and market conditions and the company’s debt levels.”

The plan may be suspended or discontinued at any time, with shares of stock repurchased held as treasury shares.

The spinoff became final December 21st when the company formerly known as Clear Channel Entertainment, and then as CCE Spinco Inc., distributed one share of Live Nation common stock for every eight shares of Clear Channel Communications stock outstanding on December 14th.

With the stock distribution, there was no IPO for the new company as there was last month for Clear Channel Outdoor.

The company’s stock symbol, LYV, was made public by The Wall Street Journal just a few days before the shareholder date of record, and confirmed by Live Nation President/CEO Michael Rapino.

The company’s Web Site, LiveNation.com, launched at the same time with a U.S. map linking to Live Nation’s regional offices. By the time the NYSE opened December 22nd, a section for investor information and governance structure was added.

The site confirmed a list of proposed directors; at press time, a permanent board of directors had yet to be announced.

Those confirmed as proposed directors are Henry Cisneros, Jeffrey T. Hinson, Connie McCombs McNab, John N. Simons Jr., Timothy P. Sullivan, as well as Clear Channel patriarch Lowry Mays and his sons, Mark and Randall. Rapino is also a proposed director.

In addition to Rapino at the top, Live Nation’s management includes, as previously reported, Alan Ridgeway, chief financial officer; Charlie Walker, president – music; Bruce Eskowitz, president – venues; Faisel Durrani, president – artist marketing products; Bryan Perez, president – interactive; and David Ian, chairman – global theatrical.

— Deborah Speer