Hamsard 2786 Ltd / Academy Music Holdings Ltd

January 2007

Live event industry

The Competition Commission (CC) has provisionally decided that the proposed acquisition of a controlling interest in Academy Music Holdings Limited (Academy) by Hamsard 2786 Limited (Hamsard) would lead to a loss of competition in relation to certain live music venues in London. Hamsard is jointly controlled by Live Nation (Music) UK Ltd (Live Nation) and Gaiety Investments Ltd. Through its ownership of Mean Fiddler Music Group Ltd, Hamsard operates live music venues in London, including the Astoriaand the Forum. It also has a management contract for the Wembley Arena. Academy owns the Shepherd’s Bush Empire (SBE), and the Brixton Academy as well as a number of other venues in London and elsewhere. Live Nation owns the Hammersmith Apollo, and a number of theatres in London. It also owns venues (mostly theatres) in 20 other cities in the UK. The Competition Commission Inquiry Group has concluded that the acquisition is expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition. Inquiry Group Chairman, Diana Guy , said: The extent to which different live music venues provide alternatives for artists, agents and promoters depends on a number of factors, including capacity, ambience and the type of events generally held there. On this basis, we found that the Brixton Academy and the Hammersmith Apollo are the closest alternatives to each other, and similarly for the SBE and the Astoria, with the Forum also acting as a significant substitute for the SBE. Under the planned acquisition, these five venues would all come under common control, removing the existing competition between them. We expect that this would lead to higher venue rentals as well as some loss of service quality. Although booking agents, particularly those who represent a substantial roster of artists, may at present be in a relatively strong bargaining position, this depends in part on their having a choice of venues into which to put their artists.

LINK – the Competition Commission’s provisional report into the UK live music industry



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