- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Music industry giants Live Nation Inc. and Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. on Tuesday announced merger plans in a deal that could draw the scrutiny of antitrust regulators.

Concert promoter Live Nation and ticket seller Ticketmaster said the combined entity would be known as Live Nation Entertainment and would be the “world’s premier live entertainment company.”

“The companies will be combined in a tax-free, all-stock merger of equals with a combined enterprise value of approximately $2.5 billion,” they said in a joint statement.

Ticketmaster shareholders will receive 1.384 shares of Live Nation common stock for each share of Ticketmaster they own, and shareholders eventually will own approximately 50 percent of the combined company, they said.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster said they expect the merger - which is subject to approval by shareholders and regulators - to be completed by the second half of this year.

Antitrust authorities are expected to cast a close eye over the deal, which would create a music-industry colossus controlling all aspects of the business - from tour sponsorship to concert promotion to ticket sales.

Ticketmaster Chairman Barry Diller, who will serve as chairman of the board of the new company, said the agreement ultimately would benefit fans.

“It was less than two months ago that Ticketmaster ended its 10-year partnership with Live Nation, and I’m extremely glad we could reunite with this combination,” he said.

“Being able to put Live Nation and Ticketmaster into an equal partnership will allow the companies to get through this difficult period and be able to expand live-entertainment options to audiences throughout the world.”

“Together, we will work to simplify the ticketing process and ultimately increase attendance at live events,” said Live Nation Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino, who will serve as chief executive of the new company.

“This merger, and the resources of these combined companies, will create a new dynamic and unique creative platform of choice for fans across all levels of the live-entertainment experience,” added Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff, who will serve as executive chairman of the new company.

Los Angeles-based Live Nation bills itself as the world’s largest concert promoter, producing more than 22,000 concerts for 1,500 artists in nearly 60 countries.

West Hollywood-based Ticketmaster is the world’s biggest live-entertainment ticketing and marketing company and sold more than 141 million tickets - worth more than $8.3 billion - in 2007.

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