Ticketmaster is raising the stakes in the secondary ticketing business by entering into a definitive agreement to acquire TicketsNow for a pricetag of about $265 million in cash, sources confirm to Billboard.biz.

Ticketmaster will integrate TicketsNow with its own TicketExchange and other ticketing programs whereby fans can simultaneously review and compare ticket availability and pricing in the primary, premium and resale categories.

Ticketmaster will work with its venue, promoter, team and other live entertainment clients to offer ticket validation and electronic ticket delivery to fans purchasing in the resale marketplace.

Launched in 1999 and based in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, TicketsNow works with nearly 700 vetted, professional ticket resellers. The Ticketmaster/TicketsNow deal is subject to customary regulatory review, and Ticketmaster expects the deal to close by the end of the first quarter.

Upon completion of the transaction, TicketsNow will continue to operate from its Rolling Meadows and Crystal Lake, Ill., locations. Cheryl Rosner will continue as CEO, and the company's current management team is expected to remain in place.

The news comes only days after global concert promotion/production giant Live Nation unveiled its plans to launch its own ticketing company when the bulk of its Ticketmaster deal expires by the end of the year.

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