Live Nation has made a major foray into South America in cutting a five-year exclusive distribution deal with CIE and T4F (Time For Fun), giving LN a huge presence in Brazil and Mexico. CIE is the third largest concert promoter in the world, according to Billboard Boxscore.

The deal effectively locks down Mexico and South America for Live Nation on most major tours in this vital and growing region, where LN has previously not been a dominant promoter.

"Wherever we can we want to have a Live Nation office executing, and we haven't had that in Latin America, largely because CIE is just so dominant," Jason Garner, Chief Executive Officer, North American Music, tells Billboard.biz. "In a region where we had zero market share, to form an exclusive deal like this gives us immediate entry, it didn't cost us a lot of money to get in, and we get the most proven execution and venue partner in the region."

Though this deal has been in the works for a year, Garner says Live Nation and CIE already had a relationship in place through LN's Global Touring division. "We wanted to formalize that relationship to make it exclusive and then add on the important South America piece to really complete our Latin America play," he says. "It was driven by a mutual desire between the two companies to find a way to formalize what has been a very friendly relationship. They were looking for a steady supply of talent and we were looking for an exclusive execution partner and that brought the two of us together."

Producing live concerts that drew over six million music fans in 2007, CIE generated more than $1 billion in revenue and margins approaching 21 percent, according to Live Nation. CIE, which is publicly traded on the Mexican stock exchange, also operates its own ticketing platform in many markets including Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and others.

LN says CIE produces more than 85% of all the live concerts by international talent in Mexico, a country with a population of more than 100 million people. T4F operates top venues in Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Porto Alegre, all of which are emerging as important new markets for international talent.

Ocesa, CIE's live entertainment division in Mexico, is a vital component of the deal. "If you're a world class artist, you don't work in Mexico without working with Ocesa," Garner says. "By having an exclusive relationship with them it really gives us a nice advantage when we're sitting down talking with an artist, that we have this great partner South of the border."

George Gonzalez will continue as president of Ocesa in Mexico, Fernando Alterio will remain as president of T4F, and Bruce Moran will be president Latin America for Live Nation based in Los Angeles. "When you enter into a relationship like this, what you want to know is when you take a band that trusts Live Nation and you walk into Latin America, that you have solid operators," says Garner. "The key here is we have trustworthy, solid partners, a well financially backed, publicly traded company, and the best part is they're our friends."

Alejandro Soberón Kuri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CIE says in a statement: "It is very clear to us that Live Nation's global platform is attracting the world's most exciting and successful artists, cementing their position as the leading provider of talent on a global basis. By forming an exclusive alliance with Live Nation, we are ensuring that our distribution channels will be filled with a steady stream of live concerts from the greatest artists in the world."