Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has purchased 5.7% of Live Nation Entertainment Inc.’s common stock, the fund disclosed April 27 in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The stake cost nearly $500 million.
The Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it is officially known, reported that it bought 12.3 million of Live Nation’s outstanding shares on April 16, around the stock’s recent low point.
The fund is not seeking to change or influence control of the company, according to the filing, signed by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the fund and chairman of Saudi Arabian Oil Co.
The investment did not involve Live Nation selling shares to the fund, nor was the transaction directly arranged by the company’s management, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed source.
There have been many reports of the Saudi fund acquiring interests in companies whose stocks have dropped precipitously during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The stock price of Live Nation, the Beverly Hills-based live event ticket seller and the music industry’s largest promoter, has plummeted to about half its value from a recent high of about $76 in February.
The company canceled or postponed all of its concerts in mid-March in the face of social-distancing restrictions and limitations on public gatherings.
About one month later, the Saudi fund made its purchase, just three days after Live Nation publicized steps to boost its financial condition — moves that were met with a positive review by one Wall Street firm.
On April 13, Live Nation announced a new $120 million revolving credit facility and plans for $500 million in cost cuts this year.
The company also began staff reductions around April 29, furloughing hundreds of employees from offices in North America, Billboard reported.
Most workers were paid one to three weeks’ worth of severance, and all will retain health benefits. Live Nation said it plans to bring all the employees back.
Previous cost cuts included Chief Executive Michael Rapino forgoing his $3 million 2020 salary and other top executives taking 50% salary cuts. Those measures amounted to annual total compensation cuts of about 26% for Rapino and 16% to 20% for the other executives, according to Salary.com
The Saudi fund is now the third-largest shareholder in Live Nation, after Liberty Media Corp. and Vanguard Group, according to reports.
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