The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) provisionally cleared the acquisition of Irish Promoter MCD Productions by Live Nation-Gaiety Holdings last month, and now, after following up on its initial assessment, it found that the acquisition would not lessen the competition in Northern Ireland.
The CMA found that Live Nation/Ticketmaster would be able to foreclose Ireland’s promoter Aiken from the promotion of live music events, although the ticketing giant “did not have an incentive to do so.” In the report, the CMA noted that Live Nation and Ticketmaster could reduce Aiken’s ticket sales and would be able to engage in a total foreclosure strategy against Aiken after the end of its contract with Ticketmaster, or sooner.
However, the foreclosure strategy would only be profitable if MCD would win a high proportion of any business lost by Aiken, as Live Nation has approximately half of the shares in MCD. The foreclosure also presents a material risk to Ticketmaster that Aiken would switch its business outside live music events to a different provider, which could allow a rival to become established in Ireland on a “substantial scale.”
“We have also concluded that potential theories of harm raised by a third party in addition to the theory of harm considered above do not provide basis for an SLC resulting from the Proposed Merger on the balance of probablilities,” the CMA said in a closing statement. “Consequently, we conclude that the Proposed Merger may not be expected to result in an SLC within any market or markets in the United Kingdom.”
MCD has remained under the Live Nation-Gaiety umbrella for the past 14 years.