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Ireland’s competition regulator approves Live Nation’s MCD deal

By | Published on Monday 8 July 2019

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The competition regulator in Ireland has approved the takeover of Irish concert promoter MCD Productions by London-based Live Nation subsidiary LN-Gaiety Holdings, albeit subject to a number of legally binding commitments.

Live Nation’s purchase of MCD was slightly confusing because LN-Gaiety Holdings is the live giant’s joint venture with the Irish company Gaiety, which is best known for, well, owning MCD Productions.

Live Nation has had a long-standing partnership with Gaiety, the company owned by Denis Desmond and his wife Caroline Downey. Many of Live Nation’s acquisitions in the UK in recent years have actually been via the LN-Gaiety joint venture, and Desmond himself now heads up the live giant’s UK and Ireland operations.

MCD, the concerts company Desmond co-founded in 1980, has not previously been part of the partnership. However, last August it was announced that a new deal would see MCD also become part of the LN-Gaiety JV. It was that deal that Ireland’s Competition And Consumer Protection Commission then investigated.

It said on Friday that a number of competition concerns had arisen as a result of the takeover, but that LN-Gaiety and MCD had made various proposals for how those concerns might be overcome. Those include both companies informing the CCPC of any future festival acquisitions they may pursue in Ireland, steps to ensure Live Nation venues don’t share confidential booking information with MCD, and commitments to ensure a divide between MCD and Live Nation’s Ticketmaster business.

The regulator concluded that those proposals dealt with its concerns. By including them it its decision to clear the MCD takeover, said commitments become legally binding.

CCPC Chair Isolde Goggin said: “The CCPC’s review of the proposed transaction included economic analysis of the affected markets and evidence from third parties active at all levels of the supply chain including promoters, ticketing services providers, and live event venues. Taking into consideration the commitments provided by the parties, there is no evidence that the proposed transaction will result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services in the state”.

In addition to the investigation by the Irish regulator, in May the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority also announced it was looking into the deal. The deadline for the CMA’s phase one decision is this week.