LN-TM Gets UK Go-Ahead

The UK’s Competition Commission has cleared the proposed Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger, paving the way for the creation of the world’s largest live entertainment company.

The decision appears to be something of a U-turn. Having given a provisional ruling in October that blocked the merger because it would “inhibit” Eventim’s entry into the UK market, the CC is now saying the merger will “make little difference” to the German company’s success in the UK.

Citing the “significant new evidence and arguments” it’s received since the provisional decision, the commission is now satisfied that LN will honour the ten-year deal it made with Eventim at the end of 2007, the German company will continue to receive a fee for every LN ticket it sells and it will also get at least the number of tickets guaranteed under that agreement.

“We have found that Live Nation would not have provided Eventim with any additional to support to establish its position in the UK beyond the obligations specified in the agreement between them”, said CC head of enquiry Sir Christopher Clarke, explaining that the merger should make no significant difference to the Bremen-based company’s position.

The CC announcement also comes as a welcome Christmas present for Live Nation and Ticketmaster as the regulatory authority had until January 19 to give its final ruling on the deal.

“On a personal basis, having gone through the sale of Hammersmith [Odeon], I’m delighted with the outcome”, Paul Latham – LN head of UK operations – told Pollstar.

Latham, who has dealt with the CC on Live Nation’s behalf, worked at the Hammersmith Odeon for many years. It was among the venues that his company had to hive off before the CC would allow LN and Denis Desmond’s Gaiety Investments to get control of half of Academy Music Group (AMG). The Odeon was later renamed Hammersmith Apollo.

Latham says all promoters and venues will continue to get the sort of service they expect and deserve from the new merged entity, and he looks forward to be part of driving the new business forward.

Ticketmaster UK managing director Chris Edmonds says the decision to clear the merger is an important milestone in the regulatory review process, and brings the companies a step closer to creating a new kind of live entertainment business.

“The Competition Commission has found that the merger will have no negative effect on the co-operation between Live Nation and Eventim and on our market entry to the UK,” said Eventim Communication chief Rainer Appel.

“We have, just like Live Nation, always made clear that we intend to honour the existing agreements, and we continue to look forward to our co-operation that has already been successfully launched in various countries.”

The US Department of Justice is still considering whether to allow the merger in the States.