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CMA clears LN-Gaiety’s MCD acquisition

19 November 2019

THE PROPOSED acquisition of Irish promoter and venue owner MCD Productions by LN-Gaiety (LNG) has been provisionally cleared by
the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).

MCD is owned Denis Desmond and wife Caroline Downey, with
pair also 50/50 partners with Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) in LN-Gaiety, through their Gaiety Investments company. Desmond has also been non-executive chairman of LNE in the UK since 2015.

The CMA initially launched the investigation due to concerns that the deal would cause damage to competitors in Northern Ireland such as Aiken Promotions, which uses LNE-owned Ticketmaster to sell tickets to its events (see LIVE UK issue 234).

In its Phase 1 inquiry, the CMA said, “This could result in less competition in promotion services to artistes, leading to higher prices for concert-goers, as well as a smaller variety of live music events to choose from.”

However, after a Phase 2 investigation, the CMA and Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has found that the merger does not raise competition concerns, as LNE has “neither the incentive nor the ability” to damage competition and even if it could, there would be no anti-competitive effect.

The proposed deal would see Desmond and Downey effectively retain half the shares in MCD through LNG, which was formed in 2004 to manage assets from Vince Power’s Mean Fiddler Music Group. LNG owns Festival Republic – promoter of festivals such as Reading (cap. 90,000) and Leeds (80,000) –  and 56 per cent of venue chain Academy Music Group.

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