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CMA seeks concessions in Live Nation-MCD takeover

24 July 2019

THE COMPETITION and Markets Authority (CMA) has raised concerns over LN-Gaiety’s (LNG) proposed takeover of Irish promoter and venue owner MCD Productions, founded by Denis Desmond and wife Caroline Downey.

Following a Phase 1 investigation into the proposed acquisition of MCD by LNG, a joint venture between Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) and Gaiety Investments (owned by Desmond and Downey), the CMA says the deal could result in substantial lessening of competition on the mainland and in Northern Ireland.

“There are only a few rival music promoters in the region and they mainly rely on Ticketmaster to sell tickets to their events,” says the CMA. “As Live Nation already owns Ticketmaster [TM], the CMA is concerned that if it were to acquire MCD, it may be able to stop rival promoters selling tickets through that platform post-merger.

“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.”

The CMA says that unless LNE and MCD offer acceptable undertakings to address its concerns, the merger will be referred for a Phase 2 investigation, which can take around 24 weeks.

Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission gave the acquisition its approval earlier this month, after LNE agreed MCD and TM would remain separate entities, and LNE would not insist event organisers use TM’s services in Ireland.

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 and 56 per cent of venue chain Academy Music Group.

Desmond was appointed non-executive chairman of LNE in the UK in 2015.

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