December 9, 2009 By Alfred Branch Jr.
With a final recommendation due in the middle of next month concerning its proposed merger with Ticketmaster, Live Nation has made sure the UK Competition Commission (CC) knows what its side of the story is.
Earlier this month, the concert promotions giant submitted documents to the commission outlining its opposition to its preliminary finding that the proposed merger could hinder German company CTS Eventim from mounting a significant entry into the UK ticketing market. Live Nation and CTS formed an alliance in 2007 for CTS to build Live Nation’s ticketing operation.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster are negotiating with government officials both in the UK and the U.S. to save the proposed merger, which has been met with opposition from consumer groups and members of Congress, among others.
“The merger with Ticketmaster means that Live Nation will have every incentive to inhibit a significant potential rival from entering the UK market and, given the significance to CTS of its agreement with Live Nation in deciding to enter the UK market, we believe that Live Nation would be able to do so,” Christopher Clarke, Deputy Chairman of the CC, said in a statement in October when the preliminary findings were released. “We believe that, if the merger proceeds, Live Nation will seek to limit its relationship with CTS, with the effect of putting CTS’s future prospects in the UK in considerable doubt.”
“However, LN [Live Nation] completely disagrees with the CC’s provisional finding that the merger would lead to an SLC [substantial lessening of competition] by impeding CTS’s entry into the UK ticketing market. The reasoning underpinning the CC’s conclusion is, in several decisive respects, factually, economically and legally flawed,” the company wrote.
In essence, Live Nation believes the CC erred in its findings because in the UK Live Nation only has about 20 percent or less of the concert market, which the CC agrees with, and the company does not believe that the merger would prohibit CTS from competing for the remaining 80 percent.
Ticketmaster believes that instead of wholesale concessions in the UK market, it should be allowed to modify its behavior in order to meet the recommendations of the CC.