Hamsard's planned acquisition of U.K. venue operator Academy Music Holdings would lead to a "substantial lessening of competition" and will not be allowed to go ahead unless certain live music venues in London owned by either party are sold off, British regulator the Competition Commission has ruled.

Hamsard, an investment vehicle jointly controlled by Live Nation (Music) U.K. and Gaiety Investments Ltd, the Irish music-promotion company, had sought to buy a controlling 51% stake in Academy Music, which controls the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London and a string of "Academy"-branded venues nationwide.

Following a probe into the proposed deal, the CC said this week that the sale could not proceed unless one of either of Brixton Academy (4,920 capacity) or Live Nation's Hammersmith Apollo (3,632) venues are sold, plus one of the Shepherd's Bush Empire (2,000) or Live Nation's Forum (2,110) venues are spun off.

Live Nation says it will persevere with its plans. "We are disappointed that, after months of deliberation, the Commission has come to these conclusions, however, we will continue to try and find ways to bring more music to more people, as has been our goal all along," the live music giant said in a statement.

The CC's report, published Jan. 23, confirms its provisional findings published in November 2006. In its earlier report, the anti-trust watchdog found that the deal would have repercussions on competition in certain London venues, resulting in rentals at those venues being higher than would otherwise be the case.