LN Makes Cohl Endeavor

Live Nation has purchased the outstanding stock of Michael Cohl’s CPI and expanded its board of directors with the addition of Endeavor talent agency founding partner Ari Emanuel and former AT&T senior EVP of corporate development James Kahan in a series of moves that began September 11th.

On that date, Cohl sold his remaining 50 percent interest in CPI to Live Nation, receiving $17 million in common stock and a nomination to vice chairman of its board of directors pending a formal election at LN’s next director’s meeting.

At that meeting, which has not yet been scheduled, Cohl may nominate an additional director for election.

The Toronto-based promoter originally joined the board after he sold a half interest in CPI to Live Nation. The addition of Cohl’s nominee, Emanuel and Kahan will expand the LN board of directors to 14.

The three new directors will join chief executive Michael Rapino as well as Clear Channel patriarch L. Lowery Mays and his sons, Mark and Randall, on the board, as well as Weinstein Company chief Harvey Weinstein and onetime San Antonio mayor and Clinton cabinet member Henry Cisneros.

The appointments of Emanuel and Kahan September 17th capped a flurry of executive and board activity that began August 23rd when Alan Ridgeway was promoted to CEO of International Music and Kathy Willard made chief financial officer. That was followed on September 4th with the exit of Bruce Eskowitz, former CEO of North American Music, who was replaced by Jason Garner.

The promotion of Cohl comes as little surprise, considering his sale of the remainder of his CPI interest to LN. The legendary promoter made his bones by promoting The Rolling Stones, and adding U2, Madonna and Barbra Streisand to the list of superstar acts that rely on Cohl and CPI to take care of them on tour.

It’s also no surprise that Live Nation intends to take care of Cohl, too. In addition to $17 million in stock, he’ll receive a "service fee" of $1.5 million the first year and $2 million annually for the rest of the five-year agreement and a bonus of up to an equal amount in performance incentives.

The agreement includes a typical 6-month non-compete with one difference: If Cohl should separate from Live Nation, he will be able to take the Stones with him. There is the usual post-Stones-tour speculation that the band will finally give up the road, but that’s been the case for at least the last 20 years.

Emanuel’s choice as a director, on the surface, may leave some scratching their heads. Endeavor is not known for music, but for servicing talent in film and television.

But the superagent, believed to be the model for Ari Gold on HBO’s "Entourage," is considered a mover and shaker in Hollywood, and helps further diversify the company’s board of directors.

One observer told Pollstar that Emanuel "has done amazingly innovative things at Endeavor and has kind of a bead on how the entertainment business is changing. The Michaels [Rapino and Cohl] want people like that on the board."