Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has responded to a partnership that could find Ticketmaster and Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE) owner Cablevision acquiring about 49% of AEG Live, the live entertainment arm of Anschutz Entertainment Group.

"If those rumors are true and there's investments made into a competitor like AEG, for one it validates the frenzy around the live business," Rapino said today (Feb. 28) during an investor's conference call. "Everybody wants to figure out how to get control of that content and ticket to build upon their business model."

Although contacts at AEG Live, Ticketmaster and Cablevision declined to comment, multiple sources confirm to Billboard.biz that a deal is imminent. The new partnership would allow AEG Live, the second largest concert promoter, to compete at a higher level with Live Nation. The deal would also give AEG Live a solid ticketing partner with Ticketmaster, whose contract with Live Nation expires in 2009.

Rapino says the partnership would validate "the frenzy that says 'content plus ticket' is the king." Last December, Live Nation struck a long-term agreement with CTS Eventim, the Bremen, Germany-based ticket marketer and promoter, to launch a worldwide ticketing business, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2009.

"We're very confident that we're ahead of the curve in the industry right now, because we're not talking about change," Rapino said today. "We have the structure that can execute the new business model today. It's about moving forward and fine-tuning the model."

Meanwhile, Live Nation reported a net loss of $18.4 million in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2007. That compares to a loss of $33.1 million in the same period in 2006.

Additional reporting by Ray Waddell