Business Maverick

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US Justice Department to seek breakup of Live Nation-Ticketmaster

US Justice Department to seek breakup of Live Nation-Ticketmaster
The Live Nation website arranged on a laptop in New York, US, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)

The US Justice Department and a group of states will sue Live Nation Entertainment Inc. for antitrust violations related to Ticketmaster’s unrivalled control of concert ticket sales, according to people familiar with the case.

The suit is expected to be filed in the Southern District of New York Thursday, said the people who asked not to be identified. The dispute will seek remedies including breaking up Live Nation, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing confidential information.

Live Nation shares dropped by 10% in late trading following Bloomberg’s report on the Justice Department’s planned lawsuit.

The Justice Department declined to comment. Live Nation didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The move is the latest antitrust suit pursued by the Biden administration, which has made competition a key component of its economic policy, bringing cases against companies including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc.

Live Nation, the biggest US concert promoter, merged with ticketing giant Ticketmaster in 2010. President Barack Obama’s Justice Department reviewed the transaction and allowed it to move forward as part of a settlement in which the company promised it wouldn’t retaliate against concert venues that opted against using Ticketmaster. 

The department, under President Donald Trump’s administration, found Live Nation had repeatedly violated that promise and entered into a modified settlement with the company in 2019 to impose an external monitor to investigate further allegations. 

Joe Biden’s administration opened a new probe of the company in 2022 amid continued concerns that Live Nation hasn’t abided by the settlement terms. The case sparked widespread public interest after Ticketmaster bungled the massive demand for Taylor Swift tickets later that year. 

Biden’s Justice Department has already filed twin monopolisation cases against Google and in March sued Apple Inc. for allegedly thwarting innovation on its iPhone. The Federal Trade Commission, which jointly enforces the antitrust laws, is seeking to force Meta Platforms to sell off its Instagram and WhatsApp units and sued Amazon last year for monopolisation of online marketplace services.

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