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Cohl & Rapino Discuss Cohl's Exit And Live Nation's Future

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Live Nation execs Michael Cohl and Michael Rapino worked to clear up some of the misperceptions surrounding the departure of Mr. Cohl from the firm during a conference call with Billboard.

Describing the call as "jovial," the Billboard article noted that mssrs. Cohl and Rapino worked to downplay the reports of an acrimonious rift between the two dealmakers.

"We didn't comment for a reason," Rapino told Billboard in regard to the reported contretemps "We come from Canada, we always talk about how we might have some fights in the dressing room but when we go out on the ice, we're united. Michael and I have had fights since the day I met him … and he's always challenged me to make bigger and better decisions. We don't always agree, but that was never relevant to whether we would be having dinner together for the rest of our lives and having great respect and working together."

They two were also quick to downplay discussions of their differences in strategic vision. Rapino told Billboard that the plan had always been to to sign 4 artists in the first year.

"We are close to the signing of another superstar, we're in discussions with a couple of others," Rapino told Billboard. "Maybe we get to four in 2008 as was the plan, or maybe we get to five or six. We're happy to be in the business and we will continue to be in the 360 business."

It was also revealed that while Cohl will resign from Live Nation's board of directors, he will continue to serve as a consultant and will continue to be the firm's largest shareholder. Arthur Fogel will take over for Cohl at Live Nation Artists and Randall Mays will return to reprise his role as Chairman of the Board.

Rapino was quick to poke at the assumed wisdom that recent economic woes and high fuel prices would lead to soft sales in the summer touring scene.

"The world is assuming my business is going to have a tough summer because of gas prices, etc., and I can say to you we have one of the strongest summer lineups we've had in a longtime. We have most of our shows on sale and some already executed, we have not experienced one ounce of soft sales or on-site ancillary sales effecting our business. We're very optimistic that we're still completely on plan and will have a very good summer." Rapino told Billboard.

So if business is looking rosy, and there was no real conflict or difference in strategy between the two execs, some observers might wonder why Cohl is taking his exit. When Billboard posed this very question, Cohl waxed poetic, saying that it was "Just the moon and the stars." He then suggested that perhaps he had assumed too many duties in his dual role of Chairman and running LNA.

"I've been giving people grief and making things difficult, and it was really all about I wasn't doing what I'm really good at," he says. "From my perspective it's much more about that than any of this nitty-gritty detail that anybody wants to talk about that's not relevant." – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers