Live Nation’s shopping spree in the festivals sector has been hit by a setback after the UK’s competition watchdog announced an investigation into the company’s acquisition of the Isle of Wight Festival.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said there were concerns the deal would create a “substantial lessening of competition”.
Live Nation, which already owns more than 80 festivals across the UK, announced in March that it had reached a deal to become the majority shareholder of the Isle of Wight event through its LN-Gaiety division.
It was the sixth major acquisition announced by Live Nation in 2017 alone, with the company having also bought eight events last year.
However, the CMA, in an initial enforcement order, has told the two organisations to cease any further integration prior to the conclusion of their inquiry.
An initial phase one, which can last up to 40 days, gives an invitation for any interested parties to comment on the deal. Following that, the deal may be cleared to proceed, or, if competition concerns are found, a deeper investigation may be ordered.
Phase two, which involves an independent panel, could last for up to six months. At its conclusion the deal will either be cleared or rejected.
Live Nation told The Ticketing Business would not be commenting at this stage on the CMA’s announcement.
Live Nation’s acquisition of Ticketmaster was the subject of an inquiry by the CMA in 2009. The deal was eventually approved after an investigation lasting more than six months.
This year’s Isle of Wight Festival will see more than 100 acts playing across eight stages and an expected audience of 42,000 with David Guetta, Run DMC, Arcade Fire and Rod Stewart headlining.
Speaking last month, Denis Desmond, chairman of Live Nation UK, said: “John Giddings and the Solo team have developed the Isle of Wight Festival to be one of the most iconic festival brands in the world and it’s fantastic to be able to add it to our growing and diverse portfolio of festivals.”