Entertainment & Arts

AEG 'to dominate London concert venues'

Wembley Arena
Image caption Concerns about the takeover were raised by the Office of Fair Trading in January

AEG is on course to take over management of Wembley Arena, giving the firm control of three of the four largest indoor venues in London.

AEG currently manage The O2 London, Hammersmith Apollo and holds the contract for concerts in Hyde Park.

The Wembley deal was referred to the Competition Commission amid fears that AEG's dominance in the capital could lead to higher prices.

But regulators have cleared the deal, subject to feedback from third parties.

The Competition Commission has concluded that AEG's takeover of the venue, which was run by Live Nation until last autumn, "will not result in substantial lessening of competition".

AEG also operates as a concert promoter, under the name AEG Live (UK) Limited, and owns ticketing service AXS.com.

Final report

'We have focused our analysis on how the merger between AEG and Wembley will affect the ability of their competitors and potential competitors to compete as live venue operators in the UK," said Martin Cave, deputy chairman of the Competition Commission.

"We found that while a promoter may have some influence over venue decision, the final choice of venue usually lies with the act and their agent. This is based on a number of quality factors, the main ones being capacity, availability, appearance, brand and reputation rather than hire price.

"So AEG's opportunity to increase venue prices would be limited given that other factors are more important and that any negotiation on price takes place after the venue has been confirmed."

At present, the takeover remains provisional. The Commission will publish its final report on 5 September, after hearing from third parties with an interest in the outcome.

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