Claiming it has a substantial amount of new information to review, the UK Competition Commission (CC), which issued preliminary findings last month against the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger, has decided to delay its final report on the matter until after the New Year.
The final report was initially due on November 24, but the preliminary findings offered a blizzard of recommendations as guidance for how the two companies could move the merger forward. At its core, the commission’s preliminary findings said the merger could adversely impact competition in the ticketing and concert industries in the UK.
According to industry insiders and published reports, Ticketmaster and Live Nation are desperate to make the deal happen, having spent millions in preparation for the merger and also identifying cost-savings the two hope to achieve. Supposedly, the two companies have painted several different scenarios to both UK and U.S. Department of Justice officials, who are also probing the deal, in hopes of convincing them to accept the merger.
“The CC’s provisional findings, which were published on 8 October 2009, identified a substantial lessening of competition in the market for the primary retailing of tickets for live music events in the UK. The Group has received a substantial number of responses to its provisional findings, which include new evidence that it must consider,” Christopher Clarke, chairman of the CC group investigating the merger, said in a statement. “Furthermore, the range of possible remedies is complex, and the Group wishes to explore all the possible remedies with both the parties to the merger and third parties. As the proposed merger is being investigated by competition authorities in other geographic markets, the CC’s guidance also requires the Group to consult with relevant competition authorities in other jurisdictions to seek consistency and effectiveness in its approach to remedies.”
Clarke continued, “For these reasons, the Group has decided to extend the period within which it will prepare and publish its report by eight weeks, with the effect that the revised period will expire on 19 January 2010.”
The two companies had hoped to close on the deal by the end of this year, but the CC’s decision could effectively delay the potential close until the first quarter of 2010 at the earliest.
Spokespersons for Ticketmaster and Live Nation did not immediately reply to messages seeking comment.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation are reportedly willing to do almost anything to push the merger through, except for selling Front Line Management, the artist management company founded by Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff that Ticketmaster bought in 2008.