Ticketing and live entertainment giant Live Nation, making good on its promise to expand internationally, has acquired France’s Ticketnet for an undisclosed price.
Ticketnet, according to Live Nation, is France’s second-largest ticket retailer, selling 6.6 million tickets annually to more than 40,000 events in that country. In addition to France, Ticketnet also sells tickets in Belgium and Luxembourg.
Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino called the acquisition “significant,” particularly because the European ticketing market is growing rapidly and currently exceeds 4 billion Euros.
“Ticketnet will accelerate our development in the fifth-largest music market in the world, and the combination of our existing concert business and Ticketnet will enable us to provide an enhanced service to the clients of both businesses,” he said in a statement. Ticketnet has about 100 employees and 750 retail points throughout the country, and it will continue to be led by managing director François Thominet.
The announcement of the acquisition today, November 9, appeared to have helped move Live Nation’s stock up about 10 percent to $9.80 per share by about 3:15 p.m. EDT. By the close of the market, shares were down from those heights but still up. The stock, which trades under the symbol LYV, closed at $9.70 on Monday, November 8, and was up 5 cents to $9.75 at the close today.
Unlike in the U.S., where Live Nation is by far the dominant ticketing operation through its Ticketmaster division, the European ticketing market has several leading players, of which Live Nation/Ticketmaster is just one. Among its rivals is German company CTS Eventim, which had a relationship with Live Nation until it was dropped following the Ticketmaster merger.
The acquisition, which will give Live Nation a strong foothold in France, is just one of several moves the company has made in recent months as it tries to shore up its slow concert ticket sales and prepare for improvements in 2011. Leading the way is the company’s plan to scale back on what it will pay artists to tour next year. In addition, the company also recently shuffled some executives into new roles to improve its touring apparatus.
While today’s announcement fits into those moves, it will likely have little effect on analysts’ ratings of the company. Speaking before the announcement of the acquisition, financial analyst Ben Mogil of Stifel, Nicolaus & Company said he was retaining the company’s “hold” rating.
“We are retaining our Hold rating as we see the operational environment continuing to be difficult on the demand front although we believe that artist cost reductions at this stage are inevitable for all but the mega-bands. We see fair value in the $9/10 range,” Mogil said.