In the wake of the merger between concert-promotion behemoth Live Nation (LYV) and ticketing/artist-management titan Ticketmaster (TKTM), approved on Monday by the Justice Department, U.S. antitrust officials ordered the partnership to divest a few assets. Ticketmaster must license its primary ticketing software to Anschutz Entertainment Group, its largest rival in concert promotion. AEG, which owns and operates such venues as the Staples Center in Los Angeles and London's O2 Arena, has the option to purchase the software, create a competing product, or partner with another competitor within five years.Ticketmaster also must sell its ticketing software, Paciolan, which it bought in 2008 and which handles ticketing for college sports and museums. Comcast (CMCSA) division Comcast-Spectacor, which manages sports and entertainment venues and owns a ticketing subsidiary, has signed a letter of intent to buy Paciolan. Purchasing the company would give Comcast-Spectacor Paciolan's technology and intellectual property, and the right to sell tickets at about 200 venues.
Will these conditions placate consumers? Many observers had a swift, negative reaction to the merger's approval after its announcement. "The conditions seem to be relatively benign," Tuna Amobi, equity analyst at Standard & Poor's, told Reuters. "There are no major divestitures required. I don't know that is going to create the kind of even, competitive field that was intended."
Shortly after the approval's announcement, TV conglomerate Liberty Media Corp. offered to buy up 34.5 million shares of the newly merged company, which would give Liberty a 34.9% stake of Live Nation Ticketmaster. Liberty, owned by John C. Malone, owns 40% of Sirius XM and 14.6% of Live Nation.
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