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Report: Live Nation Ponders Return to Private

Live Nation Entertainment Inc. Chief Executive Irving Azoff and the company’s biggest shareholder are considering taking the concert giant private only 18 months after Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster, according to a media report

The Beverly Hills ticketing, concert and artist manager has continued to struggle as the economy recovers from the recession. By going private, Azoff and Liberty Media Chairman John Malone would gain time to restructure as business improves, sources told the New York Post in a Friday story. The company has $1.7 billion in debt from the Ticketmaster merger.

A source close to the company told the paper that talks are at an early stage and that going private is just one option under consideration. “Yes, they’ve had discussions, but it’s more of a strategy that is being contemplated,” the source said. “Nothing is imminent.”

Live Nation’s market cap is about $2 billion, and Liberty Media holds about 20 percent of the shares. Some of the funding for such a deal could come from private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, which has past dealings with Azoff. He joined Live Nation when it acquired a controlling stake in his artist management company in 2008.

Live Nation declined comment on the Post’s story.

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