Live Nation is negotiating to buy the management companies behind U2 and Madonna, according to the New York Times, citing people with direct knowledge of the deals.
Live Nation would reportedly pay more than $30 million for both Principle Management and Maverick. Principle is the company of longtime U2 manager Paul McGuinness and Madonna manager Guy Oseary runs Maverick. In an unexpected shift, Oseary would take over the day-to-day management of U2 and McGuinness would become the chairman of Principle, the Times Reports. The latter’s role was not fully clear.
In a statement to the Times, McGuinness said: “It could be seen as slightly poor etiquette for a manager to consider retiring before his artist has split, quit or died, but U2 have never subscribed to the rock and roll code of conduct. As I approach the musically relevant age of 64 I have resolved to take a less hands-on role as the band embark on the next cycle of their extraordinary career.
"I am delighted that Live Nation, who with Arthur Fogel have been our long term touring partners, have joined us in creating this powerful new force in artist management. I have long regarded Guy Oseary as the best manager of his generation and there is no one else I would have considered to take over the day-to-day running of our business.”
In addition to concert promotion and Ticketmaster, Live Nation also manages some 200 artists through its Artist Nation division, and has inked previous deals with U2 and Madonna.
U2 is readying a new album for tentative release in April, Billboard has learned, and is shopping for brand partners to announce the new project via a Super Bowl commercial. Leading the meetings for Bono, McGuinness & Co. is Oseary, who's been reaching out to potential sponsors on the band's behalf, according to four executives familiar with plans. Danger Mouse has been producing the set, which was recorded primarily at New York's Electric Lady Studios.
Oseary did not respond to requests for comment from Billboard Tuesday afternoon.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
(Additional reporting by Andrew Hampp in New York)