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Ireland’s Competition Authority Clears MCD-Live Nation Deal With Conditions

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DUBLIN, Ireland (CelebrityAccess) — Ireland’s competition and consumer protection regulator announced it has approved the proposed acquisition of Irish promoter MCD Productions by Live Nation-Gaiety.

The proposed deal, announced in 2018, will see Live Nation UK acquire Denis Desmond’s MCD Productions in its entirety.

Desmond founded MCD in 1980 with his business partner Desmond and Eamonn McCann and continued to operate the business as a standalone business with his wife Caroline Downey as a separate entity after he became Chairman of Live Nation UK in 2015.

After the deal was announced, the CCPC launched a formal review of the proposed agreement after they “identified a number of competition concerns arising from the overlapping activities of Live Nation and MCD in the provision of primary ticketing services, the promotion of live events and the operation of live event venues.”

Those concerns included “likely impact on competition of future acquisitions of festivals or festival operators, the potential for anti-competitive information sharing, and the potential for retaliatory action against independent live event venues because they choose an alternative ticketing services provider.”

While the deal is cleared to proceed, the approval came with some caveats. According to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Live Nation has agreed to inform the CCPC in advance of any proposal to acquire control of a live music festival or a live music festival operator in Ireland.

The conditions of the approval also require Live Nation to ensure that the information about artists booked by independent promoters at venues owned or operated by Live Nation is “not directly or indirectly shared between Live Nation and MCD.”

The conditional approval also stipulates that Live Nation cannot refuse or threaten to refuse to provide live events to an independent live event venue if that venue opts to patronize a ticketing company other than Live Nation’s Ticketmaster.

The approval also requires Live Nation/MCD to conduct contract or other negotiations related to primary ticketing services by Ticketmaster to MCD on an “arm’s length” basis. This means MCD and Ticketmaster must each act independently and in its own interest, the regulatory agency said.

“Today’s determination is the culmination of ten months of in-depth analysis and consultation. The assessment of a proposed transaction involving parties with interconnected activities and a sector with a limited number of players is particularly challenging and requires robust scrutiny. In all circumstances, the merger review mechanism requires the CCPC to examine the relevant markets to establish whether a substantial lessening of competition would occur if a proposed transaction were to be implemented,” Isolde Goggin, Chairperson of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, said in a statement announcing the conditional approval.

“The CCPC’s review of the proposed transaction included economic analysis of the affected markets and evidence from third parties active at all levels of the supply chain including promoters, ticketing services providers, and live event venues. Taking into consideration the commitments provided by the parties, there is no evidence that the proposed transaction will result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services in the State. The commitments obtained are legally binding and include requirements in relation to compliance reporting,” Goggin added.

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