Merger Approval Overturned In U.K.

The Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger will get a second look from the U.K.’s Competition Commission after German ticketing giant CTS Eventim successfully appealed against the original decision to give the merger the go-ahead.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal made the order Feb. 10, based on Eventim’s claim that the regulator had erred in its assessment of the effect the merger would have on the market.

More controversially Eventim claimed the CC had failed to consider the likelihood and consequences of Live Nation breaching the contract it signed with the German company at the end of 2007.

Last March LN chief Michael Rapino said his company would honor that deal, apparently to Eventim chief exec Klaus-Peter Schulenberg’s satisfaction. Raising doubts about it now will likely do little to improve what’s becoming a strained relationship between the two companies.

Some London-based LN execs are becoming frustrated about how long it’s taking to get the Eventim’s ticket system up and running in the U.K., a platform that should have launched Jan. 1.

It wasn’t possible to get comment from Eventim, Live Nation or Ticketmaster at press time, although both U.S. companies have said the Germans’ objections to the deal are without merit.

The appeals tribunal has recently become more vigorous in its analysis of CC decisions, and last year sent back cases involving large UK companies including Tesco Plc, Barclays Plc and the British Airport Authority.