Tech

Live Nation, DOJ reach deal over ticketing practices, stock jumps 9%

Key Points
  • Live Nation and the Justice Department have reached a settlement over ticketing practices, the company confirmed Thursday.
  • Live Nation said that it has reached an agreement "in principle" with the DOJ to extend and clarify the consent decree that was formed in 2010 when Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster.
  • The DOJ will file a petition to clarify and extend the terms of the consent decree an additional five and a half years through December 2025, the department said. It was set to expire in July 2020.
VIDEO0:5900:59
Live Nation to settle with DOJ, avoiding lawsuit: Source

Live Nation and the Justice Department have reached a settlement over ticketing practices, the company confirmed Thursday.

Shares of Live Nation jumped 9% on the initial news of a deal.

Live Nation said that it has reached an agreement "in principle" with the DOJ to extend and clarify the consent decree, or merger agreement, that was formed in 2010 when Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster.

The company violated the original merger agreements "repeatedly and over the course of several years," the DOJ stated in a release Thursday.

"When Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010, the Department of Justice and the federal court-imposed conditions on the company in order to preserve and promote ticketing competition," said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. "Merging parties will be held to their promises and the Department will not tolerate transgressions that hurt the American consumer."

The DOJ has been investigating Live Nation for allegedly pressuring concert venues to use Ticketmaster, the Wall Street Journal reported last week, citing people familiar with the matter.

"This is the most significant enforcement action of an existing antitrust decree by the department in 20 years," the release said.

The DOJ will file a petition to clarify and extend the terms of the consent decree an additional five and a half years through December 2025, the department said. It was set to expire in July 2020.

With the extension, Live Nation will adopt some clarifications to "put a stop to this conduct and to remove any doubt about defendants' obligations," the DOJ stated.

The extension makes it clear what conduct is prohibited, according to the DOJ, making it easier to detect and enforce if future violations occur.

The DOJ outlines eight clarifications to its 2010 consent decree in its release.

  • Live Nation may not threaten to withhold concerts from venues that choose to use a ticketer other than Ticketmaster
  • Any threat to withhold concerts from venues that use another ticketer is a violation
  • Actually withholding any concerts, and not just threatening to withhold, in response to a venue not using Ticketmaster is also a violation
  • The antitrust division of the DOJ will assign an "independent monitor" to investigate and report on Live Nation's compliance with all merger agreements
  • Live Nation will also appoint an internal antitrust compliance officer and provide employees with training to make sure the company is in full compliance
  • Live Nation will inform all current and potential venue customers of the clarified and extended merger agreements, especially as they relate to ticketing 
  • Live Nation will pay $1,000,000 for each violation moving forward
  • Live nation will also pay for the Department's investigation and enforcement

Live Nation will not face a material fine, a source familiar with the situation told CNBC, but will cover the DOJ's attorney costs. That figure is expected to be in the low millions.