- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 9, 2010

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Concert promoter Live Nation Inc. and ticket-selling company Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. said Friday that their shareholders approved the two companies’ merger, although the deal still awaits approval by U.S. antitrust authorities.

Live Nation said votes representing more than 99 percent of its shares were cast in favor of the deal. Ticketmaster said votes with more than 98 percent of its shares backed it.

Once merged, the two aim to form a single company that promotes concerts, sells tickets, puts out albums, owns venues and manages an artist roster that includes U2, Madonna, Jay-Z and the Eagles. Its operations would span more than 30 countries.

Consumer groups, ticket resellers and politicians have come out against the deal, saying the combined company would control too much of the U.S. concert experience.

Live Nation, which is based in Los Angeles, and Ticketmaster, based in West Hollywood, have argued that the merger will streamline their operations, ensuring their survival. Music fans can benefit through lower ticket prices because the merged company can earn money in new ways, they say.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval in the U.S. and Canada.

Last month, the U.K.’s Competition Commission gave the merger its blessing, reversing a previous decision.

Since Britain gave the all-clear, shares of both Live Nation and Ticketmaster have risen nearly 20 percent.

Live Nation shares fell a penny to $9.63 in after-hours trading Friday, adding to a 6 cent loss in the regular session. Ticketmaster shares were unchanged after closing up 2 cents at $14.10.

If the merger goes ahead, the companies plan to name the new entity Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

Ticketmaster shareholders would control 50.01 percent of the merged company after a stock transaction, while Live Nation shareholders would control the rest. Live Nation Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino would become its CEO.

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