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Diller Plans to Resign as Chairman of Live Nation

Diller Said Resign as Chairman of Live Nation Entertainment
Barry Diller, seen here as chairman and chief executive officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

Barry Diller plans to resign as chairman of Live Nation Entertainment Inc., eight months after a merger that combined the world’s largest concert promoter and ticketing company.

Diller told board members yesterday that while there is “no rush,” they should start the process to appoint a new chairman, according to an e-mailed statement.

Diller, 68, faced shareholder opposition to a continued role at the merged Ticketmaster Entertainment and Live Nation before the companies combined in January. He was Ticketmaster’s chairman before the deal. While restructuring IAC/InterActiveCorp, the Internet company he leads, Diller battled in court with John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp., Live Nation’s largest shareholder.

“I have always said, since the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, that I only planned to stay as chairman through the transition and integration of the two companies,” Diller said in the statement.

Live Nation has faced a disappointing summer concert season in North America with acts such as U2 postponing shows. Its stock plunged 21 percent in two days in July after Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino said growth had slowed.

Diller’s departure will take effect at the next board meeting, said a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the decision isn’t public. The timing of the next meeting isn’t clear, the person said.

Live Nation, based in Beverly Hills, California, gained 11 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $9.96 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have fallen 31 percent in the past six months.

Concert Merger

The company was created in January with the merger of Ticketmaster, the world’s largest ticketing company, and Live Nation, the biggest concert promoter and artist-management company. Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff became executive chairman and CEO of Front Line artist-management. Rapino, CEO at Live Nation, kept that title at the new company.

The merger took more than a year ago complete because of an extended regulatory review by the U.S. Justice Department.

Malone’s Liberty Media holds a 14 percent stake in Live Nation, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Liberty CEO Greg Maffei expressed confidence in Live Nation’s management at an investor conference last week.

In May, U2 postponed the North American leg of its tour after singer Bono had emergency back surgery. The shows have been rescheduled for spring and summer of 2011.

The Hollywood Reporter, which reported Diller’s resignation earlier, cited unidentified people as saying there was a clash between the executive and other board members over control of the company.

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