LOS ANGELES U.S. trade regulators could require major concessions in exchange for approving a proposed merger between concert promoter Live Nation Inc and ticketing giant Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc, sources told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
The Justice Department is mulling whether to block the deal over concerns about its effect on consumers, who have seen ticket prices for live events rise sharply in recent years, and on musicians who could be forced to do business with the combined live entertainment behemoth, the Journal reported.
People familiar with the matter told the Journal the companies were exploring remedies for possible antitrust objections but had received little guidance from the Justice Department.
The Justice Department isn't expected to issue a ruling before late November, and possibly not until 2010. The companies originally said they expected the deal to close by the end of the year.
The firms could not be immediately reached by Reuters to comment on the Journal story.
Last week, Britain's competition regulator provisionally ruled against the merger and suggested the merged company might have to sell part of its business.
It said it would propose remedies that could include divestment of the British business of either Ticketmaster or Live Nation, or measures to ensure that a smaller player could survive. The commission's final report is due November 24.
In a statement last week, Ticketmaster said it believes the deal will ultimately be approved and that the combination "will be able to help achieve needed change that will strengthen a flagging music industry."
(Reporting by Gina Keating; Editing by Anshuman Daga)