Via Financial Times

Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter and the owner of Ticketmaster, has reached a preliminary settlement with US Department of Justice over allegations of anti-competitive ticketing practices, sending its shares soaring on Thursday. 

The DoJ had been investigating Live Nation over concerns it had tried to pressure concert venues to use its Ticketmaster sites over other ticketing platforms. 

Live Nation bought Ticketmaster in 2010, a deal that combined the biggest concert promoter with the dominant ticketing site, raising concerns of a monopoly over live music. US regulators approved the deal under certain conditions — specifically, that Live Nation would not force concert venues to use Ticketmaster.

But ticket prices continued to climb after the merger, and companies complained Live Nation was using its clout to make venues use Ticketmaster for their events. Live Nation manages tours for hundreds of artists, including Jay-Z and U2, and allegedly threatened to snatch shows from venues if they did not use Ticketmaster as a vendor. 

The DoJ said on Thursday that Live Nation had violated its agreement “repeatedly and over the course of several years”. 

As part of Thursday’s settlement, the DOJ modified the consent decree “to make it clear” that pressuring concert venues into using Ticketmaster is prohibited. Live Nation would be subject to a $1m penalty each time it violates these rules, as part of the new agreement. 

The DoJ called the deal “the most significant enforcement action of an existing antitrust decree by the department in 20 years”. 

The agreement, or consent decree, had been set to expire next year, but the two sides have agreed to extend it by five and a half years.

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Live Nation said on Thursday that the agreement is “the best outcome for our business, clients and shareholders as we turn our focus to 2020 initiatives.”

Shares in Live Nation jumped more than 9 per cent to $69.91 on Thursday afternoon.