Barry Diller Bows Out as Live Nation Chairman


Barry Diller announced his impending resignation as Live Nation chairman Tuesday, perhaps putting an end to his tussle with the rest of its board for control of the concert promoter and talent agency nearly a year after its merger with Diller's Ticketmaster, according to an article in The Hollywood Reporter.

The combined company (LYV) had developed stress points as Diller and other board members began bickering. Diller reportedly moved to oust Live Nation's chief financial officer, an effort that was nixed by the CFO's allies on the board, who later became leery of Diller, and viewed some of his actions as moves to seize control of the company.

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But Live Nation's troubles haven't been confined to the boardroom: Since the merger, it has been struggling with declining ticket sales, most notably for concerts, and its stock has fallen sharply to below $10 from its peak of $16.90 a share in late April.

An investor conference in July apparently didn't help. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino reportedly was ripped up one side and down the other by Diller for giving a presentation that the music industry viewed as going beyond bullish and into the realm of bull, according to a Wall Street Journalreport.

Instead of achieving its aim of appeasing investors and providing confidence that the management's long term strategy was strong, Rapino's presentation did the opposite: Live Nation's shares plunged even while the presentation was being given, the Wall Street Journal notes. That slide continued over the following days as Live Nation's shares dipped 20%, according to the report.

As the board prepared to give Diller the heave-ho, he took matters into his own hands, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Diller said:

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. It's been almost a year and I informed the board today [Tuesday] that while there was no rush, the board should start the process now to appoint a new chairman.

Diller's resignation is expected to kick in after the company's next board meeting, according to The Wall Street Journal article.