February 10, 2009

Ticketmaster, Live Nation agree to merger

Two U.S. entertainment giants, Ticketmaster and Live Nation, announced an agreement to join forces Tuesday in an all-stock merger worth $2.5 billion.

Under the agreement, Ticketmaster shareholders would receive 1.384 shares of Live Nation common stock for each Ticketmaster share they own, the companies said in a joint statement. The swap would allow shareholders from each company to each own about 50 percent of the combined company.

The merger, likely to provoke antitrust scrutiny, comes less than two months after the companies severed ties. At the time, Live Nation said it would start its own ticket-selling business.

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, Ticketmaster Entertainment Chairman Barry Diller said.

He said the merger would allow the companies to get through this difficult period.

The statement said the operating synergies would save $40 million by combining marketing, ticketing and back-office functions.

Live Nation Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino said the move would provide measurable benefits to consumers.

Analysts who predicted the deal would come about have said the merger of such large venue and ticket-selling businesses could control ticket prices and performer fees.