2019 American Music Awards

UK Competitions Authority Provisionally Clears Live Nation-MCD Merger

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LONDON — Live Nation's proposed takeover of leading Irish promoter MCD Productions has been provisionally cleared by British government watchdog, The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The CMA launched a 'phase 1' inquiry into the acquisition earlier this year, following concerns that the deal could lessen competition in the music promotion industry in Northern Ireland.

Announcing its findings July 11, the government agency noted there were only a few rival music promoters in the region, most of which rely on Ticketmaster to sell tickets to their events.

"This could result in less competition in promotion services to artists, leading to higher prices for concert goers, as well as a smaller variety of live music events to choose from," the CMA warned in July.

That led to an in-depth 'phase 2' investigation, which today (Nov. 7) published its provisional findings. The good news for Live Nation and MCD is that, according to the CMA, the proposed merger "is not likely" to raise competition concerns. The reason it gives is that "Live Nation would not be expected to have the incentive to harm rival music promoters by making it harder for them to sell tickets through Ticketmaster."

Interested parties have until 28 November to respond to the CMA's provisional findings. The statutory deadline for the CMA's final report is 8 January 2020. Live Nation declined to comment.

LN-Gaiety Holdings Limited -- a joint venture between Live Nation and Gaiety Investments – first announced its plans to buy MCD Productions in August 2018.

At the time, Live Nation described the acquisition as "the logical next step" in its long-standing relationship with Denis Desmond, co-owner of MCD alongside his wife Caroline Downey, who also jointly own Gaiety Investments. Desmond has additionally held the role of Live Nation U.K. and Ireland chairman since 2015. Financial terms of the deal have never been disclosed.

In 2017 the CMA investigated Live Nation's acquisition of the Isle Of Wight Festival over similar concerns of lessening competition in the U.K. live music market. In that instance, the deal was cleared at the first stage.


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