The boards of directors of concert-industry giants Live Nation and Ticketmaster have approved a merger agreement, CNNmoney.com reported today, a deal expected to take effect later this year. The deal is a stock swap that awards Ticketmaster shareholders 1,374 shares in Live Nation per share. Not including debt, the value of the newly named Live Nation Entertainment is estimated at $2.5 billion.
The deal will bring almost every aspect of the live-music business - promotion, marketing, ticketing, merchandising, artist management - under one umbrella and, understandably, is expected to come under heavy scrutiny from antitrust regulators and elected officials. One, Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y., right), is already on the warpath over the recent debacle where people logging onto Ticketmaster's Web site to buy tickets for Bruce Springsteen's upcoming Working on a Dream tour received a "technical difficulties" message and were directed to secondary ticket broker TicketsNow - a Ticketmaster subsidiary - which was selling them at a considerable markup.
"This merger would give a giant, new entity unrivaled power over concertgoers and the prices they pay to see their favorite artists and bands," Shumer said. "It must be viewed skeptically and scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission."
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Ticketmaster chairman Barry Diller called Schumer's statement "factually untrue." If you think the fur is flying now, just wait until Bob Lefsetz weighs in.