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Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger approved

  |   Jan. 25, 2010 at 9:51 PM
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Justice and the Canadian Bureau of Competition have approved a proposed merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

The approvals clear the way for the formation of a new company, to be named Live Nation Entertainment Inc., to "reflect the combination of Live Nation's concert promotions expertise with Ticketmaster's world-class ticketing solutions and artist relationships," Live Nation and Ticketmaster said in a news release Monday.

Under the terms of the proposed final judgment filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, the companies agree to divest Ticketmaster's self-ticketing subsidiary, Paciolan, to Comcast-Spectacor and to license the Ticketmaster Host technology to Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc.

Christine Varney, an assistant attorney general who heads the Antitrust Division, said at a news conference the Justice Department initially considered the proposed merger to be anticompetitive "But required divestitures and behavioral prohibitions alleviate our concerns."

"We expect that we will see prices coming down," she said.

Michael Rapino, chief executive officer of Live Nation, said the company would "seek to transform the way artists distribute their content and fans can access that content." In a statement, Rapino said the transaction would mean "the playing field is competitive and broader."

"We believe that this merger will now create a more diversified company with a great selling platform for artists and a stronger financial profile that will drive improved shareholder value over the long term," he said.

Irving Azoff, chief executive officer of Ticketmaster, called the Justice Department approval of the merger "a great win for fans."

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., who has opposed the merger, said in a statement the two companies have "a history of anti-consumer behavior" and he would keep "a close eye" on U.S. enforcement of consumer protections under the new entity.

"The American people need to be told how (the Justice Department) decided that this deal, even with the concessions made, passes muster with our nation's antitrust laws," Pascrell said.

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