OFT inquiry threatens Live Nation 'megadeal'

The proposed $2.5bn (£1.5bn) merger between live music giants Ticketmaster Entertainment and Live Nation was yesterday thrown into doubt after it was referred for a second regulatory inquiry, this time in the UK.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) announced it had referred the US all -share deal to the Competition Commission, as both companies operate heavily in Britain. The US Justice Department has also launched an inquiry.

The OFT fears the industry would experience a "substantial lessening of competition resulting" if the two companies merge. Ali Nikpay, a senior director at the OFT, said there was "a realistic prospect that the merger will deny those attending live music events the benefits of more competition in the distribution of tickets". That could mean higher ticket prices, he added.

The live music industry is currently worth about £1.9bn a year. Ticketmaster dominates the ticketing industry, selling 141 million tickets in 2007, while Live Nation is the world's largest concert promoter, and has contracted artists including Madonna and Jay-Z.

Live Nation had signed a deal with Europe's largest ticketing agent CTS Eventim to replace Ticketmaster as its principal agent in December. The regulator feels the result of the merger would drive CTS from the UK market. Even if it stays, the OFT said, "its competitive strength could be significantly reduced without the full benefit of its arrangement with Live Nation".

Mr Nikpay said: "We expected CTS's entry, through its contract with Live Nation, to be an important new competitive dynamic in the UK ticketing market." He added the merger could undermine this by "prompting the exit of what would likely have been a third large player from the UK, or at least significantly stunting its effectiveness."

The regulator also aired concerns that the merged company could restrict competition in the promotion of live music events, such as limiting rival promoters to ticket agent services. The Competition Commission is expected to report by 24 November.

The deal has proved controversial in the US, with critics including Bruce Springsteen slamming it publicly.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral