Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel left Live Nation board after antitrust concerns, US says

The US justice department said on Monday that Endeavor chief executive Ari Emanuel, and Mark Shapiro, the entertainment group’s president, had resigned from the board of Live Nation after it expressed concerns about the two companies’ overlap.

The justice department, which has been stepping up its antitrust scrutiny under the Biden administration, said on Monday that Endeavor and Live Nation competed closely in sports and entertainment markets. Both companies sell tickets and did not qualify for certain antitrust safe harbours.

“These resignations ensure that Endeavor and Live Nation will compete independently,” said Richard Powers, the justice department’s acting assistant attorney-general for antitrust.

“Executives are not permitted to hold board positions on companies that compete with each other. The division will enforce the antitrust laws to make sure that all companies compete on the merits.” 

On June 3, Live Nation said Emanuel was resigning from its board, but gave no indication of any pressure from the justice department. Shapiro was re-elected to the board earlier this month and still listed as a member on Live Nation’s website as of Monday.

Live Nation, an event promoter that owns the Ticketmaster platform, declined to comment. Beverly Hills-based Endeavor did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Endeavor went public in April. The company was founded by Emanuel in 1995 as a talent agency and went on to acquire rival William Morris Agency, plus the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Miss Universe beauty pageant. 

Live Nation, which struggled during the pandemic, settled with the justice department in 2019 over antitrust issues. The DoJ had been investigating Live Nation amid concerns it had tried to pressure concert venues to use its Ticketmaster sites over other ticketing platforms. 

The Biden administration has signalled it will take a tougher approach to antitrust enforcement.

Biden tapped 32-year-old Lina Khan, a critic of large tech companies, to head the Federal Trade Commission. Tim Wu, a prominent critic of Big Tech groups, joined the White House in March as an adviser on competition policy, a move that signalled to Silicon Valley that Biden hoped to tame America’s most valuable companies.

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