LN/Ticketmaster merger OK'd with conditions

Lower ticket prices will stem from move by Justice Dept.

NASHVILLE -- After a nearly a year of investigation and due diligence, the Justice Department said Monday that it will approve the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger but imposed major conditions meant to create stronger competitors and lower ticket prices for consumers.

The new company, to be called Live Nation Entertainment, has agreed to divest its Paciolan ticketing operation, acquired by Ticketmaster in 2007, and must strike a ticketing licensing agreement with sports and entertainment company AEG, whose concert promotion division AEG Live is Live Nation's closest competitor.

The conditions would result in two large, vertically integrated competitors -- AEG and Comcast-Spectacor -- that would vie for ticketing contracts with Live Nation Entertainment.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster agreed to the conditions, but a U.S. District Court in Washington must approve the settlement. Canadian regulators and 17 state attorneys general also signed onto the deal.

Shares in the merging companies rose sharply in trading after reports surfaced that the deal would be approved, and the rally continued after the announcement. Live Nation finished up 14.7% at $10.51, hitting a 52-week high intraday; Ticketmaster jumped 15.8% to close at $15.40.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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