Industry News

Live Nation cleared for Isle Of Wight Festival acquisition

Live Nation has been cleared by the UK’s competition watchdog to acquire the Isle Of Wight Festival.

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) said in March that there were concerns the deal would create a “substantial lessening of competition” after Live Nation became a majority shareholder of the event.

However, a subsequent investigation found that “the evidence collected indicates that the Isle of Wight Festival and Live Nation’s existing festivals were not competing particularly closely for customers.”

“The fact that festival goers also choose between going to a festival and other activities will also ensure that Live Nation continues to face sufficient competition,” stated the CMA.

The investigation concluded that the merger “would not materially strengthen Live Nation’s position in booking artists, and that a sufficient range and quality of artists will continue to be available for rival organisers of live music events.”

The government body said that the inquiry would “therefore not be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation.”

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.

This year’s Isle of Wight Festival, which was held from June 21 to 24, saw more than 100 acts playing across eight stages and an audience of 42,000 with David Guetta, Run DMC, Arcade Fire and Rod Stewart headlining.

Agent and promoter John Giddings revived the event in 2002 after a 32-year hiatus. Since then, the festival has hosted the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who, David Bowie and Amy Winehouse, among many other big names.

The 1970 event was by far the largest and most famous of the early festivals and the unexpectedly high attendance levels of approximately 600,000 led to parliament adding a section to the ‘Isle of Wight County Council Act 1971’, preventing overnight open-air gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special licence from the council.

Live Nation has developed one of the largest and most diverse portfolios of festivals in the world with its 86 events including Download, Lollapalooza, Reading & Leeds, Way Out West, Rock Werchter, Splendour Festival Australia and US favourites Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits, Governor’s Ball.

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.