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.
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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."
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.