Seatwave hits out at £1bn merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster

SEATWAVE, Britain’s biggest ticket exchange, yesterday hit out at the US authorities’ decision to clear the way for a £1bn merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

The US Department of Justice authorised the deal to merge the concert promoter that has Madonna and Jay-Z on its books with the ticket sales giant, but imposed certain conditions.

The new firm, which will trade as Live Nation Entertainment, will have to licence its ticketing platform to a competitor and divest certain assets.

But Seatwave chief executive Joe Cohen said that the deal would “push ticket prices up”.

He added: “Concert promoters have always tried to push prices up, but the artist managers – such as Ticketline-owned Frontline – want to keep prices low to sell as many tickets as possible. That tension, which has kept ticket inflation lower, decreases when the two are combined.”

In the UK, the competition commission approved the merger in December, overturning its previous opposition to the deal.

Meanwhile, Liberty Media last night offered to buy up to 34.5m shares in Live Nation Entertainment at a 14 per cent premium.

If Liberty’s tender offer is fully subscribed and completed, the company, headed by media mogul John Malone, will have a 34.9 per cent stake in the business. Liberty already has an agreement that permits it to buy up to 35 per cent of the outstanding shares.