Convinced by CTS Eventim that the Competition Commission’s (CC) report was flawed, the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) Thursday “quashed” the findings and demanded the CC reconsider its decision to approve the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger.
In December, the CC approved the merger in the UK without conditions, which reversed its earlier findings that showed concern for how the deal might affect CTS Eventim.
In calling for the CC to launch a second review of the decision, the CAT bought CTS Eventim’s argument that it had not been given an adequate opportunity to file its concerns over the merger. Based in Germany, CTS Eventim is Europe’s largest primary ticketing company, and it has a current contract with Live Nation as the company that built the Live Nation ticketing operation that debuted in early 2009.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation received approval with conditions from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) late last month, and the two became Live Nation Entertainment. Conditions for the approval included a requirement that Ticketmaster license its ticketing software to concert promoter AEG, and sell its primary ticketing subsidiary Paciolan to competing ticketing company Comcast-Spectacor.
Depending on the outcome of the second review, Live Nation and Ticketmaster may be forced to make changes to its business model in the UK. In that country, the combined companies control a much smaller portion of the ticketing market than they do in the U.S. where it was believed the two controlled upwards of 70 percent.
“We’re pleased to see the UK Competition Commission take another look at this merger,” John Breyault, spokesperson for the National Consumers League and an opponent of the merger, told TicketNews. “It’s an indication that they’re recognizing the deep impact that this deal will have on the entertainment industry.”
A spokesperson for Live Nation Entertainment did not return a message seeking comment.
The UK decision will likely have little to no effect on the merger’s ultimate approval in the U.S., however. Following the DOJ’s decision, under the Tunney Act people have a 60-day window during which they can voice their complaints about the deal prior to a federal court signing off on the merger.
“We hope the U.S. regulators and courts will keep an eye on this,” Breyault said. Late last year, the National Consumers League, the National Association of Ticket Brokers and others launched an anti-merger Web site called TicketDisaster.org to drum up opposition to the deal. “Granted, it’s very, very rare that a court will disagree with a DOJ settlement, but it could happen.”