As if the federal investigation into the deal were not enough, now Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment have to contend with the wrath of one of the major shareholders who has cooled on the planned merger of the two giants.
According to Bloomberg, Sam Shapiro, chairman of Shapiro Capital Management, owns about 11.9 million shares of Live Nation stock through his firm, and he wants no part of going into business with Barry Diller, who is slated to become chairman of the merged company, Live Nation Entertainment. The shares represent a stake of about 15 percent.
Shapiro told the news service that he doesn’t like Diller’s track record with companies Diller has headed, but Shapiro added that he may support the deal if Diller takes a lesser role with the new company.
Diller, one of the most powerful executives in the media industry, is no stranger to making to enemies, having last year battled Liberty Media’s John Malone in a messy public spat that Diller eventually won.
With nearly $2 billion of assets under its direction, Atlanta, GA-based Shapiro Capital Management is “an institutional asset management firm” Shapiro and Mike McCarthy in 1990, according to StockPickr.com. The company manages “small, mid, and all-cap equity products and adheres to an absolute value discipline approach to investing in the U.S. equity markets.”
Michael Rapino, Live Nation’s top executive who will become CEO and president of Live Nation Entertainment, tried to reassure some investors during a hastily put together conference call late this week, according to Bloomberg, by saying Shapiro’s opposition was minor and that the company would address the issue. Shapiro is supposedly concerned over “value creation,” Bloomberg reported, but he supports Rapino’s leadership.
Since news broke of the planned merger, there has been a steady drumbeat of criticism against it from politicians, artists, financial analysts, ticket brokers, promoters and fans. Live Nation Entertainment could potentially control 80 percent of the concert landscape, which has led to complaints that it would be a virtual monopoly.
The two companies, however, believe the $2.5 billion merger will help the ticketing and live entertainment industries and ultimately help fans and lower ticket prices.
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