Ari Emanuel has resigned from his position on the Live Nation board of directors nearly 14 years after the founding partner at Endeavor was elected to represent shareholders of the world’s largest concert promoter, according to an SEC filing from Friday.
Emanuel had planned to leave following the launch of Endeavor’s IPO in April, according to a source at Live Nation, After a false start in 2019, Emanuel was able to successfully take the sprawling entertainment company Endeavor — which owns the WME and IMG talent agencies, the Miss Universe Pageant, Ultimate Fighting Championship and ticketing and hospitality company OnLocation — public on the New York Stock Exchange, raising about $511 million at a valuation of a little over $6 billion.
But his timing exiting Live Nation makes sense for another reason: Documents obtained by Billboard suggest Emanuel was waiting until June 3 for the vesting of his final stock award of 4,470 shares issued June 2020 worth nearly $400,000.
In a Live Nation SEC filing announcing Emanuel’s exit, the company said he “withdrew from reelection to the board of directors and will not be standing for reelection at the Company’s annual meeting of stockholders” on June 10. Live Nation officials note that the split was amicable and “not the result of any disagreement.”
Emanuel has enjoyed a long relationship with Live Nation chief executive and president Michael Rapino. Endeavor’s talent agency, WME, is one of the world’s largest music agencies and has booked the company’s clients across Live Nation’s portfolio of venues, festivals and global touring deals, resulting in billions of dollars in tickets sold. Endeavor also holds a partial ownership stake in Lollapalooza with Live Nation, which the promoter acquired in 2014 with the purchase of C3 Presents.
Live Nation’s stock value has grown nearly 350% during Emanuel’s time on the board, trading for approximately $20.30 per share in September 2007, down to a low of less than $5 per share in 2009 during the worst months of the financial crisis before beginning its ascent in 2013 and eventually reaching $75 a share in 2019. That’s a point Emanuel famously reminded Irving Azoff of in June 2013, six months after Irving unexpectedly resigned from his chairman position at Ticketmaster and cashed out his stock.
Emanuel began the fight, with many executives and WME agents on copy, forwarding an article from the Financial Times reporting that Live Nation’s stock price nearly doubled in the first half of the year.
“The article says since you left stock has continued to grow…..interesting,” Emanuel wrote. “How much money you lost by selling. Stupid move.”
Irving Azoff’s wife, Shelli Azoff, disagreed: “I am in the air on my new g450 (private jet),” she replied “We did ok with the LN stock.”
Years later, Emanuel might now be wondering if he sold his own Live Nation stock too early. On March 3, 2020, about 10 days before the company pulled touring shows off the road due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, Emanuel sold more than 71,000 of his shares in Live Nation — representing 97% of his holdings in the company for approximately $58.26 per share, for a total of $4.8 million. Had he waited 15 months until his other stocks had vested on June 3, 2021, to cash out his holdings, it would have been worth $90 per share, buoyed by investor expectations for a strong recovery after the pandemic, generating $6.4 million.