Live Nation Academy Music Acquisition Challenged

LONDON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Competition Commission (CC) has provisionally decided that the proposed acquisition of a controlling interest in Academy Music Holdings Limited (Academy) by Hamsard 2786 Limited (Hamsard) would lead to a loss of competition in relation to certain live music venues in London.

Hamsard is jointly controlled by Live Nation (Music) UK Ltd (Live Nation) and Gaiety Investments Ltd. Through its ownership of Mean Fiddler Music Group
Ltd, Hamsard operates live music venues in London, including the Astoria and the Forum. It also has a management contract for the Wembley Arena. Academy
owns the Shepherd's Bush Empire (SBE), and the Brixton Academy as well as a number of other venues in London and elsewhere. Live Nation owns the
Hammersmith Apollo, and a number of theatres in London. It also owns venues (mostly theatres) in 20 other cities in the UK.

In a summary of its provisional findings report published today on the CC's website competition-commission.org, the CC has concluded that the
acquisition is expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition.

Group Chairman, Diana Guy said: "The extent to which different live music venues provide alternatives for artists, agents and promoters depends on a number of factors, including capacity, ambience and the type of events generally held there. On this basis, we found that the Brixton Academy and the Hammersmith Apollo are the closest alternatives to each other, and similarly for the SBE and the Astoria, with the Forum also acting as a significant substitute for the SBE."

Under the planned acquisition, these five venues would all come under common control, removing the existing competition between them. We expect that
this would lead to higher venue rentals as well as some loss of service quality. Although booking agents, particularly those who represent a substantial roster of artists, may at present be in a relatively strong bargaining position, this depends in part on their having a choice of venues into which to put their artists.

The CC did not identify any competition concerns relating to live music venues outside London or music promotion services, which are also provided by the parties.

The full provisional findings report will be published next week. Along with the summary the CC has also published a notice of possible remedies to address the anti-competitive effects of the acquisition, including possible divestment of some of the relevant venues in London.

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