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Live Nation’s MCD acquisition approved in Ireland

Live Nation has been given the green light by the Irish authorities to acquire promoter MCD Productions after agreeing it will not force event organisers to use Ticketmaster’s services in the country.

Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has cleared Live Nation subsidiary LN-Gaiety’s purchase of MCD almost a year after the deal was agreed, although the acquisition must still be approved by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The Irish competition regulator said the deal has only been approved after a number of legally binding commitments, with competition concerns arising from the overlapping activities of Live Nation and MCD in the provision of primary ticketing services, the promotion of live events and the operation of live event venues in the state.

The most striking restrictions relate to primary ticketing, with Live Nation agreeing that MCD and Ticketmaster will be kept as separate entities and that there will be no pressure on venues to use the Live Nation division’s ticketing services.

Live Nation has agreed it will “not refuse or threaten to refuse to provide live events to an independent live event venue as a result of that venue choosing to contract with a primary ticketing services provider other than Ticketmaster.”

It will also not “conduct any contract or other negotiations relating to the supply of primary ticketing services by Ticketmaster to MCD on an ‘arm’s length’ basis.” This means MCD and Ticketmaster must “each act independently and in its own interest.”

The merged business must also take steps to ensure that information about planned tours being promoted by rivals using venues owned or managed by Live Nation – including Dublin’s 3 Arena – isn’t shared between Live Nation and MCD.

“The CCPC’s review of the proposed transaction included economic analysis of the affected markets and evidence from third parties active at all levels of the supply chain including promoters, ticketing services providers, and live event venues,” said Isolde Goggin, chair of the CCPC.

“Taking into consideration the commitments provided by the parties, there is no evidence that the proposed transaction will result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services in the state.

“The commitments obtained are legally binding and include requirements in relation to compliance reporting.”

The UK’s CMA began its investigation into the deal in May, and is scheduled to announce this week whether there are adequate concerns to prompt a deeper investigation.

MCD, Ireland’s most prominent live events promoter, is the owner of Gaiety, which formed a joint venture with Live Nation to create the London-based LN-Gaiety in 2004.

In recent years, several of Live Nation’s acquisitions in the UK have been through the LN-Gaiety joint venture. LN-Gaiety’s UK portfolio includes stakes in Festival Republic and Academy Music Group, while it also owns and operates the 3Arena in Dublin.

MCD, which was founded in 1980 by Denis Desmond and Eamonn McCann, has worked with acts such as U2, Robbie Williams and The Rolling Stones. Desmond now heads up Live Nation’s UK and Ireland operations.

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