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U.K. Approves Ticketmaster-Live Nation Merger, U.S. Remains Undecided

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December 23, 2009 - The United Kingdom Competition Commission said Tuesday (PDF) it will clear the proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, but United States and Canadian antitrust regulators are still reviewing the deal.

U.K. regulators concluded that the merger of Ticketmaster, a ticketing agent, and Live Nation, a live music promoter and venue operator, “will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the market for live music ticket retailing or in any other market in the U.K., including live music promotion and live music venues.”

The commission’s announcement marks a change in course from its provisional decision which expressed concern that the merger could inhibit the entry of Eventim, which is currently providing Live Nation with ticketing software and services, into the U.K.

“We examined how the merged entity might attempt to shut out competitors, for example by Live Nation restricting the availability of tickets for its events to other ticket agents or by Ticketmaster refusing to sell tickets for other promoters and venue operators. However, we found that, in most of these cases, the merged entity would suffer significant and immediate losses, with very uncertain prospects for long-term gain. Therefore, we concluded that it was unlikely that the merged entity would harm other ticketing agencies, promoters and venues in these ways,” said U.K. Competition Commission Deputy Chairman Christopher Clarke.

“Our decision today differs from our provisional findings in October, which is unusual but not unique. The very purpose of publishing our provisional conclusions is to provide all parties with the opportunity to review them and to put forward new evidence or arguments,” Clarke added.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that shares of Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment rose following the commission’s decision.

The companies, which are both based in the U.S., said the U.K. decision paves the way “for the creation of the world’s premiere live entertainment company.” The proposed merger has already been approved by regulators in Norway and Turkey.

Winter covered technology policy issues for five-and-a-half years as a reporter for the National Journal Group. She has worked for USA Today, the Washington Times, the Magazine Group, the State Department’s International Visitor’s Program, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She also taught English at a university in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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