The U.K.’s competition regulator reversed its initial findings on the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, saying it considered new evidence and arguments to conclude that the combined company will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the markets for live music ticket retailing, promotion or venues.
The Commission said the merger “will make little difference” to the prospects of success of Germany-based CTS Eventim, the largest competitor to Ticketmaster.
The Commission reversed its provisional conclusion made in October, saying such a result was unusual but no unique. The Commission had previously expressed concern that the merger would inhibit the entry of Eventim into the U.K.
Before the merger announcement, Eventim had signed an agreement with Live Nation to provide it with ticketing software and services.
The CC said it received new evidence and arguments during the consultation period after its October declaration.
“[P]rior to the announcement of the merger Live Nation had never intended to support Eventim’s entry into the UK beyond its obligations under the agreement, which would remain unchanged by the merger, the Commission said in a released statement.
CC Deputy Chairman, who headed the investigation in to the merger, explained the findings.
[W]e found that Live Nation always saw its agreement with Eventim as a way for Live Nation to become the principal retailer of its own tickets, through the use of Eventim’s managed ticketing services, he said.
The agreement will remain in place and won’t affect Eventim’s fees from Live Nation or the number of tickets Live Nation will allocate to it, he noted.
The CC also concluded that the merged company would not have the financial incentive to use its position in retail, promotion or venue operations to harm its competitors.
“[I]t would suffer significant short-term losses in pursuit of very uncertain long-term gains, the Commission said.
The U.S.-based companies - which operate in various markets around the world including the U.K. - agreed to a $2.5 billion all-stock merger in February. They are still awaiting U.S. regulatory approval.
Live nation primarily promotes live music events and owns live music venues. Ticketmaster mostly sells tickets on behalf of live music promoters and venue operators.