LN And Cohl Settle

Live Nation Entertainment and former chairman Michael Cohl have settled their legal differences dating back to his abrupt exit from the company in 2008.

The now-former adversaries announced in a brief joint statement that they have amicably settled lawsuits pertaining to a non-compete agreement filed almost two years ago.

“We’ve had a long and fruitful history, collaborating with Michael Cohl,” said Arthur Fogel, Live Nation’s chairman of global music and CEO of global touring. “We’re pleased that we’ve been able to resolve our differences, and can now get back to working together.”

Cohl struck an equally conciliatory tone in his statement.

“Live Nation has been a valued partner through the years, and I’m glad that we’ve been able to put this behind us and move forward,” Cohl said.

No other details were provided, but it’s hard to ignore the timing of the reconciliation coincides with speculation of a Rolling Stones 50th anniversary tour sometime in the next year.

Cohl has produced the Stones’ last several world tours, and no doubt Live Nation would love to have a piece of the action should Mick and the boys agree to another spin around the globe. While the legal drama played out, the Stones maintained a healthy distance from both parties.

Live Nation filed suit against Cohl and his S2BN Entertainment in U.S. District Court in Miami Oct. 18, 2010, claiming Cohl defaulted on $5.35 million in payments regarding a non-compete he signed with exiting the company in June 2008.

Live Nation sued Cohl for more than $5 million five months later, claiming the famed promoter and now embattled producer of “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” hadn’t lived up to his end of the deal, defaulting on $5.35 million in payments for specific promotion rights. The company sought the overdue funds plus interest and attorneys’ fees.

Cohl filed a countersuit in February 2011, claiming Live Nation played hard and fast as it wrangled for a possible Rolling Stones tour later that year.

In his countersuit, Cohl said Live Nation sent him a letter in February 2010 saying the company determined that he “will be unable to successfully negotiate the acquisition of the rights to promote the next Rolling Stones tour.” As a result, Live Nation claimed, Cohl breached the “Letter Agreement” of the deal.

“Live Nation now has the free and unfettered right … to bid or seek to obtain directly the right to promote the next concert tour of the Rolling Stones, whenever that may occur,” LN wrote. Thus, it no longer had any “duty to share, co-promote or jointly pursue with Cohl any such rights that Live Nation may acquire.”

But according to Cohl, the Feb. 8, 2010, letter was Live Nation’s “first and only communication” on the subject and LN “made no effort whatsoever to discuss any concerns that it purportedly had regarding Cohl’s ability to acquire the rights to the Rolling Stones’ next tour.”

Live Nation EVP and general counsel Michael Rowles’ attempt to clarify the letter didn’t mollify Cohl, who responded that he believed the company’s actions violated the deal by mischaracterizing its provisions. He later declined to accept an amendment to the non-compete.

By the end of the year, according to court documents, Cohl met with the Stones, including Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and was “expressly invited to bid for tour promotional rights” for a 2011 outing.

Live Nation, Cohl alleges, then “attempted to interfere with and destroy Cohl’s potential” to win the promotion rights. Live Nation allegedly informed the Stones that Cohl was in a dispute with the company, and “denigrated Cohl” to Stones reps in a further attempt to “damage the ability of Cohl to obtain promotional rights.”

The Stones informed Cohl and his legal team they perceived a “spat” and did not want to get dragged into it. The band later issued a press release saying they have no exclusive tour promoter because there were no “firm” plans to tour at that time.

But that was then and this is now. While Rapino didn’t provide a nice quote for the joint announcement of the reconciliation, he did send a clarifying email to Ben Sisario of the New York Times the next day.

In it, Rapino spills the beans that Cohl has paid the disputed fees and agreed that if either party wins any new Stones tour, they will work together on it.