John Malone, the powerful chairman of communications, entertainment and internet company Liberty Media Corp., Thursday was named interim chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, replacing Barry Diller, who Malone reportedly clashed with over the direction of the ticketing and concert promotions giant.
The move took place during a meeting of the Board of Directors and became effective immediately, and in a prepared statement, Live Nation officials stressed the decision is not permanent. Though giving up the chairmanship, Diller will remain a director.
“Barry Diller made his resignation official at a Board meeting yesterday afternoon, and Dr. Malone agreed to serve in an interim capacity to permit the Board adequate time to select a new Chairman.” Malone’s Liberty Media owns just under 15 percent of Live Nation.
Diller abruptly announced his resignation as chairman late last month, and in the ensuing press reports alleged rifts were exposed between him, Malone and other members of the Live Nation board, including company President and CEO Michael Rapino.
Diller denied there being any friction that led to his resignation, instead stressing that he had always planned to step aside as chairman after the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster was complete. Live Nation Executive Chairman Irving Azoff backed up Diller’s claim in a post on his Twitter account.
“As usual the press reports are ridiculous. It was always Barry Diller’s intention to step down from [Live Nation Entertainment Chairman of the Board] during first year after [Ticketmaster/Live Nation] merger. I look forward to continue to work with him during his time on the board. I thank him for the many years of dedication and loyalty to everyone at [Ticketmaster],” Azoff wrote. He is also a board member, and he has emerged as a possible successor to Diller.
Live Nation, which has had a less than robust year, it’s first under the merger, is facing a critical time moving forward. Earlier this week, former Ticketmaster CEO Fred Rosen announced his return to the ticketing industry by joining Montreal-based Outbox Technology, an emerging ticketing rival.
In addition, Live Nation must negotiate more favorable financial terms with artists for tours, and calm investor concerns over the company’s direction and stock price, which has been disappointing throughout a portion of the year.
Shares of Live Nation’s stock, which trades under the symbol LYV, was selling at about $9.70 per share today, October 15, at about 1:30 p.m. EDT. The price was up about 4 percent from the previous day’s close.