Rapino Sheds Little Light On CTS

Hearing Live Nation and Ticketmaster explaining why the two companies should be allowed to go ahead with their merger is exercising the business writers so much the UK’s Financial Times said they should have sold tickets for it.

But it’s still not clear exactly how Munich-based ticketing giant CTS Eventim fits into the picture, although LN chief Michael Rapino seems confident he has a plan that’ll work.

“We will continue to honor the CTS deal,” he told Pollstar, a few days before sending out the same message during the March 2 LN earnings call.

“We chose CTS to help build our ticketing capability; however, the option to now merge with Ticketmaster allows us to advance our strategy and start providing the e-commerce, marketing products, and solutions of the future today,” he told investors, possibly leaving the suspicion that the German company may not be the partner his company is seeking.

“We just believe these economic times require a faster transformation to meet the evolving needs of the artist and fans today,” he added, although it’s not clear if or how the comment related to his company’s German partner. The two have inked a 10-year deal for CTS to sell LN’s tickets.

Rapino repeated LN’s commitment to that contract when another investor tried to be more specific about where Klaus-Peter Schulenberg’s firm stood in light of the merger. But he gave away little detail when saying the two companies would continue their arrangement “and [work together] any other way that we can kind of operate on a global basis.”

Rapino’s clearly impressed by the CTS Eventim platform and reassured another investor who was worried about “hiccups” in the system and what went wrong with the Phish onsale.

“It was nothing really to do with the ticketing platform or the storefront. It was just a combination that the two weren’t talking well together on letting 1 million people come through the front door,” Rapino explained.

He also said there’s no early penalty for pulling out of the CTS deal, when asked if the newly merged company would have to see the contract through or buy off the Germans.

He said he had a recent meeting with Schulenberg, whose company stonewalled questions about Live Nation and Ticketmaster for two weeks, and spoke of the advantages of being “in markets with him as he expands.”

Investors on the Frankfurt stock exchange seemed encouraged by news of a recent meeting between Rapino and Schulenberg, and with the LN chief re-stating his commitment to their 10-year agreement.

CTS shares were at euro 23.38 March 5, almost 30 percent higher than when they were in the doldrums and trading at a little above euro 18 at the end of February.