Live Nation was the promoter for Lady Gaga’s performance at the Forum.

Live Nation was the promoter for Lady Gaga’s performance at the Forum. Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Already the world’s dominant live events company, Live Nation Entertainment Inc.’s global ambitions took a big step forward with the acquisition of the world’s No. 3 concert promoter.

The Beverly Hills-based company announced July 24 the purchase of Mexico City-based Ocesa Entretenimiento, which generated $133 million in artist ticket sales in the first six months of 2019, according to trade publication Pollstar.

No. 1-ranked Live Nation pulled in $1.2 billion in artist ticket sales during the same period.

The largest concert promoter in Mexico and Colombia, Ocesa also owns Ticketmaster Mexico, that country’s largest ticketing service by sales.

The deal is one of the biggest acquisitions for Live Nation, which has steadily acquired concert promoters, ticket servicing companies and venues since the U.S. Justice Department approved its 2010 purchase of U.S.-based Ticketmaster Entertainment.

Two Mexican entertainment conglomerates, Grupo Televisa and CIE, co-owned Ocesa. Full deal terms were not immediately made public, but Group Televisa said it sold its 40% stake in Ocesa for the U.S. equivalent of $273 million.

The deal was announced the day before Live Nation’s second quarter earnings report. For the quarter, the company posted profits of $319 million, a 23% jump from the same period a year earlier, and $3.2 billion in revenue, which was up 10% year over year.

Live Nation dominates the U.S. live event space, with about 80% of the U.S. ticketing services market and 60% of the domestic concert promotion market, according to industry estimates.

The company has targeted international acquisitions in recent years to continue its growth. Ocesa is the largest of several recent Live Nation purchases, including the acquisitions of DF Entertainment in Argentina and MCD Productions in Ireland.

Live Nation aims to finalize the Ocesa purchase by the end of 2019, pending approval by regulators in the United States and Mexico.

Combining the largest and third largest concert promoters in the world “should raise significant antitrust concerns,” said Andre Barlow, an antitrust lawyer in Washington, D.C., who worked in the Justice Department’s antitrust division during the Clinton administration. Barlow cast doubt that the Justice Department would intervene, given federal officials’ history of greenlighting Live Nation deals.

But Mexican regulators could be another story, Barlow said, since the deal will give Live Nation a dominant share of that country’s ticketing and live events market.

Antitrust regulators in Ireland spent almost a year probing Live Nation’s takeover of MCD Promotions before approving the deal. It is pending regulatory approval by the United Kingdom.

If the Ocesa deal goes through, it will bolster Live Nation’s ability to negotiate with sponsors in Latin America, said Gigi Johnson, a music business professor at UCLA. Johnson said the deal could hurt Latin American artists’ ability to negotiate with the behemoth promoter since there would be few alternatives for booking shows in large venues.

The world’s second largest concert promoter with $343 million dollars in ticket sales in the first half of 2019, downtown-headquartered Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. has previously complained to the Justice Department about Live Nation using its market share to suppress competitors. The company declined comment about the pending Ocesa acquisition.

Media and entertainment reporter Matthew Blake can be reached at (323) 556-8332 or mblake@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on twitter @mattpennyblake.

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