Irish Competition Watchdog Clears LN-Gaiety/MCD Acquisition With Reservations

Electric Picnic
Conal McSweeney
– Electric Picnic
The popular Irish festival is part of LN-Gaiety

Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has cleared, subject to a number of legally binding commitments, the proposed acquisition of sole control of MCD Productions Unlimited Company (MCD) by LN-Gaiety Holdings Limited (LN-Gaiety).
The CCPC undertook a two-phase review to establish whether the transaction would result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services in the country.
The watchdog identified a number of competition concerns “arising from the overlapping activities of Live Nation and MCD in the provision of primary ticketing services, the promotion of live events and the operation of live event venues in the State,” according to a release sent out to media today.
Concerns included the likely impact on competition of future acquisitions of festivals or festival operators, the potential for anti-competitive information sharing, and the potential for retaliatory action against independent live event venues because they choose an alternative ticketing services provider.
To address these competition concerns, the parties submitted the following proposals to the CCPC:
– to inform the CCPC in advance of any proposal to acquire control of a live music festival or a live music festival operator in the State, even if the proposed transaction would not meet the thresholds to be notifiable on a mandatory basis to the CCPC
– to take steps to ensure that the identity of artists that independent promoters propose to promote in the State, which is disclosed to a venue owned, operated or managed by Live Nation during the booking process for a live event is not directly or indirectly shared between Live Nation and MCD
– not to refuse or threaten to refuse to provide live events to an independent live event venue as a result of that venue choosing to contract with a primary ticketing services provider other than Ticketmaster
– to conduct any contract or other negotiations relating to the supply of primary ticketing services by Ticketmaster to MCD on an “arm’s length” basis. This means MCD and Ticketmaster must each act independently and in its own interest
“Following detailed consideration and analysis, the CCPC concluded that these commitments were sufficient and effective in addressing the identified potential competition concerns. The commitments form part of the CCPC’s determination to clear the proposed transaction, which makes them legally binding on the parties,” the watchdog reasoned.
Denis Desmond and Caroline Downey
Phillip Massey/Getty Images
– Denis Desmond and Caroline Downey
Attending the Night For Love Charity Ball in aid of The Samuel L Jackson Foundation and Irish Autism Action on February 13, 2010 in Dublin, Ireland

Live Nation UK chairman Denis Desmond, who is both the co-owner of Gaiety Investments alongside his wife, as well as the co-founder and owner of MCD Productions, said: “We are pleased to learn that following a comprehensive investigation the CCPC have approved MCD becoming part of the Live Nation Gaiety family.”

CCPC chairperson Isolde Goggin explained, that “today’s determination is the culmination of ten months of in-depth analysis and consultation. The assessment of a proposed transaction involving parties with interconnected activities and a sector with a limited number of players is particularly challenging and requires robust scrutiny. 
“In all circumstances, the merger review mechanism requires the CCPC to examine the relevant markets to establish whether a substantial lessening of competition would occur if a proposed transaction were to be implemented. 
Goggin went on to explain that the review took into account economic analysis of the affected markets and evidence from third parties active at all levels of the supply chain including promoters, ticketing services providers, and live event venues. 
“Taking into consideration the commitments provided by the parties, there is no evidence that the proposed transaction will result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services in the State. The commitments obtained are legally binding and include requirements in relation to compliance reporting,” she concluded.
CCPC informs that this determination and the commitments obtained from the parties are independent of the watchdog’s ongoing investigation into the ticketing sector in Ireland.