US Justice Department against music merger: report

The US Justice Department is resisting a merger between music industry giants Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment, The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.
   
The proposed all-stock merger of equals, which concert promoter Live Nation and ticket-seller Ticketmaster unveiled in February, would bring the value of the new group -- Live Nation Entertainment -- to about 2.5 billion dollars.
   
Negotiations between Justice Department officials and executives from the two entertainment groups were ongoing and no final decision has been reached, the Journal said on its website.
   
Justice officials have hinted that elements of the proposed deal could lead them to sue to block it, the newspaper said, citing a person familiar with the matter. It noted the Justice Department is not expected to issue a ruling until late November or possibly next year.
  
Live Nation and Ticketmaster "now sense they need to make some serious concessions" and are concerned the Justice Department will seek to block the merger, the individual said.
   
Another person close to the situation told the daily that if the Justice Department requires too many properties be sold off, it could "undermine the whole basis for the deal."
   
The merger, which the two groups said would create the "world's premier live entertainment company," is the first high-profile combination up for antitrust review since President Barack Obama took office in January.
   
It is "widely regarded" as a bellwether of the Obama administration's stance toward other major deals, such as Comcast's proposal to take a majority stake in General Electric's NBC Universal, the Journal noted.
   
Britain's competition watchdog, the Competition Commission, provisionally ruled against the tie-up last week, claiming it would "limit the development of competition in the (British) market for live music ticket retailing."

Source: AFP

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