Live Nation Execs and Board Members Blamed for Renewed Antitrust Action in Latest Investor Lawsuit

Live Nation lawsuit antitrust shareholders
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Live Nation lawsuit antitrust shareholders
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Photo Credit: Live Nation

Live Nation Entertainment is facing a new shareholder lawsuit that alleges executives and board members approved anti-competitive practices which left the company open to financial losses.

The action names CEO Michael Rapino and CFO Joe Berchtold, as well as Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke in its allegations of collusion. The derivative lawsuit comes after the United States Department of Justice accuses Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary of anticompetitive practices. The DOJ is seeking to force Live Nation to sell Ticketmaster after failing to abide by its 2010 merger agreement.

This new shareholder lawsuit filed by John Williams alleges that the government’s legal action against Live Nation will “severely damage and injure” Live Nation and its shareholders. Williams blames the board members for the current legal action which “Live Nation has expended and will continue to expend significant sums of money” to defend against.

Williams alleges that Live Nation’s executives and board members “continued to cause Live Nation to engage in anti-competitive conduct in defiance of the consent decree.” He alleges this is a breach of fiduciary duty on their behalf, bringing down DoJ scrutiny on its anti-competitive practices.

Williams also claims the Live Nation board “misrepresented to the company’s shareholders and investing public” that they were cooperating with investigators. “The opposite was true—Live Nation was actively attempting to thwart the federal investigations and was not cooperating with them.”

The litigation brought forth by the DOJ “details many internal emails and correspondence between Live Nation and others demonstrating the brazen antitrust violations.” Those violations include collusion between Live Nation and Oak View, a venue operator co-founded in 2015 by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff.

“Live Nation initially viewed Oak View Group as one of its biggest competitor threats,” Williams alleges in his lawsuit. “But instead of competing, the companies colluded with each other to avoid competition” and agreed to a “mutually beneficial scheme” to violate competition law and “increase profits at the expense of consumers.”

The lawsuit alleges that Oak View Group and Leiweke specifically “aided and abetted” Live Nation board members. It highlights Leiweke calling Oak View a ‘pimp’ for Live Nation, “sometimes delivering threats on behalf of Live Nation to venues that were considering dropping Ticketmaster for another ticket provider.”