Opinion and analysis of the day's music business news.

-- Has Live Nation’s stock bottomed out? After closing at $8.43 on August 11, the company’s shares have inched upward and closed at $9.09 on Wednesday. Before last week, Live Nation had closed below $9.00 only three times since January 1 – and those lows came immediately after the disastrous July 15 investor presentation. Reflecting the value of a merged company, Live Nation stock closed at $12.51 on January 26, the day after the companies reached a settlement with the Department of Justice. It rose to a 52-week high of $16.90 in April.

-- The New York Times’ DealBook blog independently confirms that Terra Firma and Citigroup have agreed to settlement talks next month. News of the settlement discussions first broke on Wednesday. Terra Firma has sued Citi for allegedly misleading it to believe there were additional bidders for EMI, thus raising both the price Terra Firma paid and the amount of Citi debt it assumed. Hearings for Terra Firma’s lawsuit against Citi are set to start in October. (New York Times)

-- As if it didn’t have enough fires to put out, Terra Firma also has to deal with a EMI pension shortfall that could be over £200 million ($312 million). The U.K.’s Determination Panel is working to get EMI and the trustees of its pension fund to resolve the shortfall. Given Terra Firma’s continued need to inject equity into EMI, a need to fund the pension would be an unfortunately timed use of capital. Here is what the 2010 Maltby report, released on Wendnesday, says about the pension fund:

“The Group’s current lending arrangements require the deficit existing at the date of acquisition of EMI Group Limited to be met by additional equity investment. Under proposals put forward to the Determinations Panel, the scheme funding deficit could fall somewhere in a range between £115 million and £217 million based on a valuation at 31 March 2008. Absent any prior agreement with the Trustees, the size of this deficit and the number of years over which the deficit is removed will be resolved by the Determinations Panel.”

The report added a rather standard disclaimer that the above factors represent a “material uncertainty” that casts doubts on the company’s ability to stay in business. But in the next paragraph the report states that EMI believes it has “adequate resources to continue as a going concern for the foreseeable future.” (This is Money, Maltby Capital Annual Review 2009/2010)

-- eMusic is about to get more aggressive in asserting its market presence. The company has hired digital agency Sarkissian Mason for an integrated digital marketing campaign that will launch this fall. The campaign will encompass digital, outdoor, mobile, viral and other marketing channels. The company also named TargetCast as its media agency.

-- Best Buy has acquired the naming rights to AEG’s 2,100-seat venue in the Times Square area of Manhattan. To be called Best Buy Theater, the venue opened in 2005 as the Nokia Theater. The “multi-year” deal will have Best Buy’s name on the building starting next month. The other Nokia Theater, which is not part of this deal, is in the LA Live complex in downtown Los Angeles. (Press release)

-- Live Nation is trying to sell the Sleep Train Amphitheater outside of Sacramento, but according to a report it will not sell to any party that wants to put on live shows. That’s a signal that Live Nation wants out of the amphitheater business in Sacramento. It’s not a total surprise. The venue has underperformed and is struggling during the recession. Built in 2000 by Bill Graham Presents, the venue is in a remote location and hasn’t been joined by additional development in the area. Live Nation is seeking only $2.7 million for the venue, according to the article. (Sacramento Bee)

Assorted Links
-- Fat Beats is closing its New York City and Los Angeles record stores. (Brooklyn Vegan)
-- Digital music players blamed for 17 wrecks per day in Britain. (HotHardware)
-- Nimbit has hired Carl Jacobs as its new VP of Marketing. (Hypebot)

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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