The UK’s competition watchdog has announced an in-depth investigation into LN-Gaiety’s proposed merger with MCD Productions after rejecting undertakings offered by Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

Live Nation’s proposed takeover of the Irish promoter has been referred to an in-depth Phase 2 investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after it raised concerns about the deal earlier this month.

A CMA spokesperson said the offer made by Live Nation did not answer its concerns over competition in the entertainment market, particularly in Northern Ireland.

“Live Nation and Ticketmaster offered undertakings to the CMA,” the spokesperson said.

“The CMA has carefully considered the undertakings offered and today announced that it does not believe that the undertakings offered would achieve as comprehensive a solution as is reasonable and practicable to address the substantial lessening of competition identified by the CMA and the adverse effects resulting from that substantial lessening of competition.”

The Phase 2 investigation, which would be carried out by a group of independent CMA panel members, would delay any final decision on the merger until January 2020 at the earliest, with the probe usually taking 24 weeks, subject to possible extensions.

In order for the CMA to accept the deal, the firms must put forward notions with the purpose of “remedying, mitigating or preventing the substantial lessening of competition concerned or any adverse effects identified.”

The CMA added that it “must be confident” that the competition concerns will be resolved without the need for further investigation.

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

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