Live events sector
AEG’s deal to take over the running of Wembley Arena has been referred to the Competition Commission after an initial investigation by the Office of Fair Trading. Late last year AEG won the rights to manage the Wembley Arena venue, previously held by Live Nation, but concerns were raised because AEG also operates London’s other arena venue at The O2 complex, as well as the Hammersmith Apollo, one of the bigger theatre venues for the music and comedy industries, and often would control a major ‘stepping stone’ for acts, particularly comedy acts, moving from club venues to theatres and then on to their arenas for the first time. AEG also now control concerts in London’s Hyde Park. The OFT confirmed it was referring AEG’s Wembley contract to the Competition Commission on Friday “due to concerns the merger may substantially reduce competition in the live entertainment venue sector”. A previous referral, when a Live Nation headed consortium brought out the Academy Group resulting in all five of London’s mid-sized rock venues under one company’s control (The Forum, Shepherds Bush Empire, Brixton Academy, Hammersmith Apollo and the now defunct Astoria), led to the disposal of two venues to satisfy Commission concerns.