Concerns about IMG’s ownership in a ticketing company that Live Nation had spun off in 2010 led to a Department of Justice request that IMG parent Endeavor’s chief executive Ari Emanuel and president Mark Shapiro resign from LN’s board of directors, sources tell Billboard.
As part of a consent decree governing Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster in 2010, the DOJ assistant attorney general for its Antitrust Division Christine Varney required Ticketmaster to sell off Paciolan, a ticketing company it had purchased three years earlier, to Comcast-Spectacor. In 2017, Paciolan was again sold as part of an intra-company transaction to sports marketing platform Learfield IMG College, which Endeavor owns a stake in through its blockbuster purchase of IMG in 2013. Silver Lake and the Comcast-backed Atairos also hold stakes in Learfield with Endeavor.
Emanuel has been on the Live Nation board of directors since 2007 while Shapiro joined the Live Nation board in 2008.
“While there has been no violation of law, we understand and respect the DOJ’s concerns regarding the current similarities of our businesses,” a statement from an Endeavor spokesperson reads.
Why the DOJ decided to act now — under the Biden Administration, the DOJ’s acting assistant attorney general for Antitrust is career DOJ deputy AG and Distinguished Service Award winner Richard Powers — is unclear. Emanuel had already agreed to resign from the board effective two weeks ago when his final stock awards in the company had vested.
In a release, the DOJ described the ownership issue as an illegal interlocking directorate where “one person – or an agent of one person or company – serves as an officer or director of two companies.”
Section 8 of the Clayton Act “prohibits the same person or company from serving as an officer or director of two competing companies, except under certain defined safe harbors.”
“Endeavor and Live Nation compete closely in many sports and entertainment markets. Both Live Nation and Endeavor, through its wholly owned and minority owned subsidiaries, promote and sell tickets and VIP packages that include tickets, lodging and travel accommodations, to live music, sporting and other entertainment events,” the release explained.
“These resignations ensure that Endeavor and Live Nation will compete independently,” explains Powers in a release. “Executives are not permitted to hold board positions on companies that compete with each other. The division will enforce the antitrust laws to make sure that all companies compete on the merits.”