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CMA gives Live Nation, MCD one week to address merger concerns

Live Nation’s proposed takeover of promoter MCD Productions has hit a stumbling block after the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised concerns about the deal this (Thursday) morning.

In an announcement, the CMA said that unless the two parties are able to address the concerns, the merger will be referred for an in-depth Phase 2 investigation.

Although the CMA did not publicly confirm the timeframes involved, TheTicketingBusiness.com understands that Live Nation, its joint venture partner, Gaiety Investments, and MCD have been given one week to find a “remedy” for the regulator’s concerns.

TheTicketingBusiness.com also understands that if such a solution is not found by July 18, the Phase 2 investigation, which would be carried out by a group of independent CMA panel members, would delay any final decision until January 2020 at the earliest, with the probe usually taking 24 weeks, subject to possible extensions.

The news is a major setback for Live Nation after Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) cleared the deal earlier this week following assurances that the promoter would not force event organisers to use its Ticketmaster service.

The CMA said today that “competition concerns in the music promotion industry in Northern Ireland” had emerged out of its Phase 1 investigation, which began in May.

“There are only a few rival music promoters in the region and they mainly rely on Ticketmaster to sell tickets to their events,” the CMA stated.

“As Live Nation already owns Ticketmaster, the CMA is concerned that if it were to acquire MCD, it may be able to stop rival promoters selling tickets through that platform post-merger. This could result in less competition in promotion services to artists, leading to higher prices for concert goers, as well as a smaller variety of live music events to choose from.

“The CMA has also considered other aspects of the companies’ businesses, such as music festivals and access to music venues, but does not have competition concerns in these areas.”

MCD, Ireland’s most prominent live events promoter, is the owner of Gaiety, which formed a joint venture with Live Nation to establish LN-Gaiety 15 years ago.

Earlier this week, the CCPC said that it would allow the merger on the condition that MCD and Ticketmaster would remain separate entities.

The merged business would also have to ensure that information about planned tours being promoted by rivals using venues owned or managed by Live Nation – including Dublin’s 3 Arena – is not shared between Live Nation and MCD.

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