Live Nation Completes Front Line Deal
On Friday, Live Nation acquired the equity interests in Front Line formerly held by Irving Azoff and Madison Square Garden. The cash portion of the transaction totaled $56.5 million and was funded with cash on hand. The remaining $59.7 million was paid using newly-issued shares of Live Nation common stock.
As a result of the transaction, Live Nation will consolidate the entity for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Of the total shares issued, Mr. Azoff received 1.8 million shares of common stock and Madison Square Garden received 3.9 million shares of common stock.
"Through this transaction we will further simplify and consolidate our operating structure," said Michael Rapino, President and Chief Executive Officer of Live Nation. "By acquiring full ownership of Front Line, we expect to benefit from substantial savings related to cash taxes, the elimination of the dividend and operating synergies resulting in an increase in our free cash flow in excess of $20 million annually. Front Line is a tremendous asset and a key component of our live entertainment and marketing platform. We look forward to Irving's ongoing contributions as we continue to focus on increasing the growth potential of our combined operations."
Additionally, the company announced a number of changes to its Board of Directors. Irving Azoff has been appointed Chairman of the Board, replacing John Malone who stepped down from the Board. In addition, Greg Maffei, Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Media Corporation, has joined the Board and has been named Chairman of the company's newly-formed Executive Committee.
"I am excited to assume the role of Chairman, and on behalf of the entire Board of Directors would like to thank John Malone for his service and welcome Greg Maffei," said Irving Azoff. "Front Line is a valuable part of our integrated entertainment, marketing and eCommerce model and this transaction further strengthens our ability to build on the unique relationship between artist and fan. In addition to my broader responsibilities at Live Nation, I will continue to operate Front Line and ensure we continue to provide services that are in the best interests of our wonderful roster of artists. Moving forward we remain focused on advancing Front Line by signing new artists, strengthening our management team through the addition of proven industry managers and expanding our content distribution globally."
Separately, the company also announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Liberty, whereby Liberty has acquired 1.8 million shares of Live Nation common stock for $18.8 million in cash. Liberty also agreed to purchase an additional 5.5 million shares of common stock for consideration of $57.7 million in cash, subject to receipt of approval of Live Nation's stockholders, which approval will be sought at the company's 2011 annual meeting of stockholders, and other customary closing conditions.