Regulator rules that concert promoters' merger can proceed

Robbie Williams performs on stage at Croke Park in Dublin
Gary McDonald Business Editor

COMPETITION authorities have given approval for the multi-million pound takeover of Irish events management company MCD Productions by the firm behind Ticketmaster.

In June the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) confirmed it was investigating the proposed deal between LN-Gaiety Holdings Ltd, a joint venture between Live Nation Entertainment Inc and Gaiety Investments, and MCD, which was founded in 1980 by Eamonn McCann and Denis Desmond.

It came amid fears it might mean higher ticket prices for concert goers and raised concerns in the music promotion industry in Northern Ireland.

But yesterday the CMA said Live Nation-Gaiety’s proposed purchase of MCD "does not raise competition concerns", giving the green light for the merger.

In a statement the regulator said: "After completing an initial phase one investigation, we were concerned that the deal could damage competition in live music promotion in Northern Ireland, as Live Nation could hinder MCD’s rival promoters’ ability to sell tickets through its subsidiary Ticketmaster.

"But as part of an in-depth phase two investigation led by an independent group of panel members, the CMA has provisionally found that the merger is not likely to raise competition concerns, as Live Nation would not be expected to have the incentive to harm rival music promoters by making it harder for them to sell tickets through Ticketmaster."

The CMA is now asking for views on the provisional findings by November 28 and says it will assess all evidence provided before making a final decision by January 8.

But it appears likely the deal will now proceed.

LN-Gaiety, a joint venture between Live Nation UK and Gaiety, was formed in 2005 and owns and operates music events and festivals in the UK. Its ultimate parent is Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster and is the largest live entertainment company in the world, operating in 44 countries.

Headquartered in Dun Laoghaire, MCD Productions is one of the best-known and longest-established event management companies in Ireland.

It has hosted U2 before 246,000 fans over three shows in Croke Park, 135,000 for Robbie Williams and 107,000 for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Phoenix Park.

It also produced the opening and the closing ceremony for the Special Olympics World Games in Croke Park in 2003.

MCD also owns and operates a number of venues in Dublin including The Olympia, The Gaiety, The Ambassador and The Academy.

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