Live Nation (NYSE: LYV) and Ticketmaster Entertainment (“Ticketmaster”) (NASDAQ: TKTM) today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create the world’s premier live entertainment company. The combined entity, which will be called Live Nation Entertainment, joins Live Nation’s concert promotions expertise with Ticketmaster’s world-class ticketing solutions and artist relationships to improve the live entertainment experience and drive major innovations in ticketing technology, marketing and service. Live Nation Entertainment will have the tools to expand access, improve transparency and deliver artists and fans more choice – driving greater attendance at live events and bringing more value to all major constituents in the industry.
The companies will be combined in a tax-free, all-stock merger of equals with a combined enterprise value of approximately $2.5 billion. Under the agreement, Ticketmaster shareholders will receive 1.384 shares of Live Nation common stock for each share of Ticketmaster they own, subject to certain adjustments defined within the agreement. Live Nation and Ticketmaster shareholders will each own approximately 50 percent of the combined company. The new company anticipates generating approximately $40 million of operating synergies through the combination of their ticketing, marketing, data centers and back-office functions. The merger agreement was approved by both companies’ boards of directors.
Barry Diller, Chairman of Ticketmaster Entertainment, said, “It was less than two months ago that Ticketmaster ended its 10-year partnership with Live Nation, and I’m extremely glad we could reunite with this combination. No different from any other industry, the challenges are all around every aspect of live entertainment. Being able to put Live Nation and Ticketmaster into an equal partnership will allow the companies to get through this difficult period and be able to expand live entertainment options to audiences throughout the world.”
Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, said, “This combination will drive measurable benefits to consumers and accelerate the execution of our strategy to build a better artist-to-fan direct distribution platform. As every industry observer knows, too many tickets go unsold and too many fans are frustrated with their ticket-buying experiences. The current inefficiencies in the system result in higher costs and confusion over access to seats. Together, we will work to simplify the ticketing process and ultimately increase attendance at live events. This is also a logical step in the evolution of our business model, creating a more diversified company with a stronger financial profile that will drive improved shareholder value over the long term.”
Irving Azoff, CEO of Ticketmaster Entertainment, said, “This merger, and the resources of these combined companies, will create a new dynamic and unique creative platform of choice for fans across all levels of the live entertainment experience. There is nothing more magical than the bond and the intimate relationship of fans to artists. It is truly an experience that needs to be embraced and nurtured with both integrity and respect. One of the mandates of the combined company will be to develop that bond to unsurpassed levels. Additionally, the Live Nation and Ticketmaster relationship will allow the live entertainment community and their respective venues to reach fans on unparalleled platforms. I look forward to working closely with Michael Rapino and the Live Nation team during this exciting and industry changing time.”
By integrating these two businesses, Live Nation Entertainment can work to:
Improve Access and Transparency
By uniting an artist, promoter and ticketing company under a combined banner, the new entity will be positioned to address the challenges of serving fans better at the point of the initial ticket sale with more options and better access.
Improve Ticket Pricing Options
The merger will enable more innovative and dynamic promotion arrangements that create more choice and a more fan-friendly purchasing experience. As an example, the Eagles’ recent all-inclusive pricing initiative was favorably received by the public as well as the broader industry.
Invest in Better Ticketing Technology
The combination will enable increased R&D investment and the sort of technology advances that improve the ticketing experience for consumers and deliver best-in-class solutions to artists, other content owners and venues. Live Nation Entertainment will be better positioned to deliver technological advances such as paperless ticketing as well as interactive seat access and mobile delivery.
Increase Event Attendance
A very substantial portion of the tickets put on sale to the public for live events goes unsold. The new company will be positioned to take full advantage of its combined online resources, databases and promotional operations to strengthen and enhance the direct connection between artists and fans. This will create opportunities to improve attendance at events, benefiting venues and supporting a healthier live entertainment industry.
The combined company will be led by Barry Diller as Chairman of the Board, Michael Rapino as CEO and President of Live Nation Entertainment and Irving Azoff as Executive Chairman of Live Nation Entertainment and CEO of Front Line. Live Nation Entertainment’s board will consist of 14 directors, seven from each company. The companies will continue to operate independently until the transaction is completed and will work together to determine where the combined company’s headquarters location will be as well as to determine additional management appointments prior to closing.
The transaction is subject to approval by both companies’ shareholders, consent of Ticketmaster bank lenders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and regulatory review and approvals. The companies expect the transaction to be completed by the second half of 2009.
Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP acted as legal counsel to Live Nation. Deutsche Bank provided advisory services and delivered a fairness opinion to the Board of Live Nation. J.P. Morgan acted as financial advisor and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP acted as legal advisors to Ticketmaster. Allen & Company delivered a fairness opinion to Ticketmaster.
For more information about this transaction, please visit www.premierliveentertainment.com.
Conference Call and Webcast Information
The companies will host a joint conference call and webcast today at 11:30 a.m. ET (8:30 a.m. PT) to discuss this announcement. The conference call can be accessed by dialing (866) 394-0797 within the U.S. or (706) 679-3454 for international callers, referencing passcode 85124431. The webcast can be accessed at both www.livenation.com/investors and http://investors.ticketmaster.com.
A replay of the conference call will be available for one week and can be accessed by dialing (800) 642-1687 or (706) 645-9291 and referencing passcode 85124431. A webcast replay also will be available on the Live Nation and Ticketmaster websites.