Deal Allowed Despite Some Opposition

By Alfred Branch, Jr.

Ticketmaster late Thursday announced it had received “early termination of the HSR waiting period” from the Federal Trade Commission for Ticketmaster’s planned acquisition of rival ticketing company Paciolan, which means the two sides can complete the deal, despite there being opposition from some competing companies.

According to a source with knowledge of the FTC anti-trust investigation, more than one ticketing company voiced opposition to the planned deal, which will cost Ticketmaster in excess of $60 million, based on the criteria for which the FTC launches such reviews. Anti-trust investigations are initiated when acquisitions that affect consumers are proposed within an industry for which the value is greater than $59.6 million, according to the FTC. Specific financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed, but the deal is expected to close soon after the holidays.

How many companies opposed the acquisition, and the nature of those complaints, is unknown. Mitch Katz, public affairs officer for the FTC, did not return a message seeking comment, but the deal clearly makes the already dominant Ticketmaster even more so. Paciolan boasts more than 200 clients that utilize the company’s primary ticketing solutions, including the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies baseball teams and Arizona State and Michigan State athletic departments, among a host of others.

The deal also comes at a critical juncture for Ticketmaster, as its parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp prepares to spin it off as a standalone public company, and Ticketmaster grapples with strong competition from the burgeoning secondary market. Ticketmaster has to show potential investors that it remains on solid footing within the ticketing industry, hence its recent signings of secondary deals with the National Football League and National Hockey League.

“This transaction is about giving fans access to what they want and providing clients full access to the spectrum of solutions and services that both companies offer,” Sean Moriarty, President and CEO, Ticketmaster, said in a statement, adding that after the closing, Paciolan CEO David Butler and his current management team will remain in senior leadership positions in the combined company, and Paciolan will continue to operate from its current location in California.

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