LIVE NATION AND TICKETMASTER EYEING MERGER
In a blockbuster deal that will realign the music industry’s balance of power, concert-promotion giant Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment, the nation’s largest ticketing operation, are planning to merge, The Post has learned.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, talks between the two companies are at an advanced stage and a vote on a deal could be put to Live Nation’s board as soon as Wednesday.
The source cautioned, however, that talks are at a delicate stage and could fall apart amid last-minute wrangling over finer points of a merger.
The source said the deal is currently seen as a merger of equals, with the board of the combined company totaling 14 members to accommodate equal representation from both companies.
Barry Diller, CEO of Ticketmaster parent company InterActiveCorp, will serve as chairman of the combined company, while Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino will be chief executive.
It’s unclear what responsibilities Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff, the legendary manager of The Eagles, Guns N’ Roses and other acts, will have in the new company, though it is assumed he will have some role.
Representatives for Live Nation refused to comment. Ticketmaster and Diller did not return calls and emails for comment.
The impending merger comes as Live Nation and Ticketmaster were about to go head-to-head on the ticketing front, as Live Nation spent much of last year building the infrastructure to support its own ticketing business.
That, in turn, prompted fear on Wall Street about Ticketmaster’s prospects, particularly since the company has only recently been spun out of IAC as a standalone business.
Indeed, Diller brought Azoff to Ticketmaster in part because Azoff’s control of artist-management firm Frontline Management would help even the playing
field against Live Nation.
While Live Nation’s foray into ticketing was cheered by Wall Street, its rich deals to sign top acts like Madonna and Jay-Z were roundly criticized.
Live Nation’s stock fell precipitously as a result of the bad publicity and an ugly internal power struggle between Rapino and former chairman Michael Cohl erupted into public view.
Rapino won the battle, and if he can sign the deal with Ticketmaster, he may have won the war. Without question, a combined Live Nation-Ticketmaster will be able to deal with the major record labels on its terms rather than vice versa.