Bloomberg News

AEG Deal to Run Wembley Arena Might Hurt Competition, OFT Says

March 22, 2013

An Anschutz Entertainment Group unit’s acquisition of the contract to manage Wembley Arena faces an in-depth review after a regulator said the deal might harm competition in the live entertainment industry.

The deal might lead to higher costs for promoters and increased tickets prices since AEG also operates the O2 Arena in London, and has a contract to stage concerts at Hyde Park, the Office of Fair Trading said in a statement. The OFT asked another regulator, the U.K. Competition Commission, to review the matter.

The 20,000-seat O2 Arena and 12,500-seat Wembley Arena are the two largest indoor live entertainment venues in London, the OFT said. The company also operates two other London venues, the Hammersmith Apollo, and IndigO2, which is located inside the O2 Arena and has a flexible capacity of 2,800.

The merger, which has already been completed, “may result in higher costs for promoters to hire suitable venues, which ultimately may be passed on to consumers in the form of higher ticket prices.”

The OFT performs initial reviews of mergers and, if it finds potential problems, refers the deals to the London-based Competition Commission for more in-depth investigations. The commission can order changes to such deals or challenge them in court.

The Competition Commission is expected to report back in September, the OFT said. A receptionist at AEG Europe in London couldn’t locate a press officer to request comment.

Wembley Arena is located next to Wembley Stadium, England’s national soccer stadium.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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