FOLLOWING a similar investigation in the Republic of Ireland (see Audience issue 228), the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a probe into the proposed acquisition by Live Nation
Entertainment (LNE) sister company LN-Gaiety Holdings (LNG) of Irish promoter and venue owner MCD Productions,
Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is already at Phase 2, having completed a consultation period. The CMA’s consultation ended on 30 May, with a decision on whether to escalate it to be announced by 11 July.
MCD is owned by Denis Desmond and wife Caroline Downey, who also own 50 per cent of LNG through their company Gaiety Investments, leaving the pair effectively owning 50 per cent of MCD if the deal goes through. Desmond is already LNE UK’s non-executive chairman.
The other half of LNG is owned by LNE subsidiary Live Nation (Music) UK (LNM).
The proposed merger would bring together a large number of live music assets in the UK and Ireland, where MCD owns Dublin venues The Olympia (1,600), The Gaiety (2,000), The Ambassador (1,200) and The Academy (650), as well as the city’s Longitude Festival (16,000) and Belfast’s Vital (30,000). LNE already owns Dublin’s 3 Arena (14,000).
Desmond has arguably been the most influential live music business entrepreneur across Ireland and the UK for several decades, having been instrumental in the launch of Scotland’s T In The Park (85,000) and the twin V festivals (87,000 each at their peak) – all now discontinued. He also bailed-out the Isle of Wight (55,000, now owned by LNE) at one point and was a major shareholder driving the growth of venue chain Academy Music Group, now majority LNE-owned.