LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Live Nation's shares were trading higher on Friday after the New York Post published a story suggesting that Live Nation and Liberty Media were in talks over taking the promoter private in a buyout.
According to the Post, Live Nation Chairman Irving Azoff and Liberty Media's John Malone are reported to be in the early stages of negotiations over a possible deal that incldues an option for a buyout. Taking Live Nation private would provide Live Nation with some room to restructure without the pressure of quarterly earnings reports.
Funding for the deal would likely come in part from private equity investment firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, who have a close relationship with both Azoff and the Clear Channel family.
The two companies are already closely interelated. Liberty presently holds a 20% stake in Live Nation and as recently as last November, uppped their holdings in the company and then again in March of this year. Liberty's John Malone served as Live Nation's interim chairman after Barry Diller stepped down until February of this year when he was replaced by Mr. Azoff.
Live Nation has faced significiant financial challenges since being spun off from Clear Channel in 2005. Since then it has posted a loss for every year, even after merging with Ticketmaster in 2010, when investors hoped that the combined company's clout and synergies would boost their bottom line. The merger also left Live Nation with $1.7 billion in debt, which, when combined with a difficult concert market in recent years, has meant lean times for the promoter-giant.
Live Nation's market cap is almost $2bn. Shares of Live Nation are up by 5.9% on the news of the possible buyout, but still down by 7.8% for the year. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers