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Live Nation Ticketmaster Deal Announcement Expected

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The rumored merger between Irving Azoff's Ticketmaster Entertainment and promoter Live Nation is looking increasingly likely and many observers anticipate an announcement regarding the merger late Monday or Tuesday.

According to the Wall Street Journal, representatives from both firms talked over the final stages of the deal on Sunday night, following the Grammy Awards.

According to the report, the company resulting from the merger would be called Live Nation Entertainment and would be overseen by board members from both Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

According to Billboard, Ticketmaster investors would pick up approximately 18% more shares as Live Nation has a larger shareholder base and sources tell Billboard that this would put Azoff at the helm with Rapino reporting to him.

Although the two companies seem to regard the merger as fait accompli, there remain significant hurdles to overcome. The current regulatory climate may prove particularly challenging for a merger between two major players in the ticketing sector and Ticketmaster is already facing calls by legislators for an investigation into a recent snafu with Bruce Springsteen tickets.

The two firms don't have a lot of overlap beyond ticket sales, but legal experts have indicated that the size of the two firms may be enough for increased anti-monopoly scrutiny. President Obama told the American Antitrust Institute last year that he plans to "reinvigorate" anti-trust enforcement.

Another factor for the merger will be CTS Eventim. Live Nation is currently in a partnership with CTS in Live Nation's US and European ticketing operation. CTS can't be pleased to see their partner in talks with competitor Ticketmaster and many experts believe that CTS and Ticketmaster would not mesh well in the event of a merger.

Finally, this abrupt reversal in direction must have many shareholders wondering. Live Nation has spent the last year disentangling themselves from Ticketmaster, after being their largest customer for years and touting their own in-house efforts. For Live Nation to cast this all aside and engage in such a drastic shift, it is impossible to not wonder what pressures the company is facing that would cause them to countenance such an abrupt shift. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers