Billboard is reporting that AEG has bought out its partners TPG Capital and Rockbridge Growth Equity, and now owns AXS outright, which will allow it to better adjust to rapidly changing market dynamics in the ticketing ecosystem. Prior to the reported consolidation, all decisions involving the business required unanimous consent between the three stakeholders. The deal came after several other potential moves for AXS fell through in recent months.
The purchase comes after more than a year of negotiation and two unsuccessful bids for AXS by rival ticketing companies. German firm CTS Eventim looked into a merger or acquisition with AXS but passed after it was clear AEG wouldn’t give up operation control. Nathan Hubbard with startup ticketing company Rival also made a bid for AXS and, later, he entertained a bid from AXS to buy Rival. Neither deal went anywhere.
With no buyers willing to agree to AEG’s terms, the company was able to hold out until it secured favorable conditions to buy Gilbert’s group and TPG, which was ready to free up cash and sell the ownership stake in AXS it obtained acquiring Cirque du Soleil in 2015.
Prior to the buyout, AEG owned 38% of AXS Ticketing, compared to a combined 62% split between TPG and Rockridge.
With the newfound freedom to move AXS in directions it wishes without leadership by committee, it will be interesting to see how the company shifts to compete against Live Nation/Ticketmaster, which has developed an increasing strangle-hold on ticketing in the United States. Accusations of unfair practices by AEG led to an explosive New York Times piece on Live Nation and Ticketmaster in April of last year, and investigations into the entertainment giant’s adherence to a 2010 consent decree was confirmed to be under investigation this week by the DOJ. That said, Billboard expressed skepticism that will lead to any significant enforcement action against the market leader.
Billboard postulated that AEG could pursue an open ticketing model for its venues, rather than tying in exclusivity the way that Live Nation does with buildings it owns and Ticketmaster.