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Competition Commission green lights AEG’s Wembley deal

By | Published on Tuesday 3 September 2013

Wembley Arena

As expected, the Competition Commission yesterday formally gave the all-clear for AEG to manage North London’s Wembley Arena.

As previously reported, the venue’s owner Quintain Estates And Development PLC appointed AEG’s Facilities UK business to manage the arena late last year, Live Nation having previously overseen the running of the space.

But the appointment was criticised by some, who pointed out that AEG already operated London’s other major arena venue, The O2 Arena in the old Millennium Dome complex, and also was co-owner of one of the city’s biggest theatre venues for comedy and music shows, the very-soon-to-be-relaunched Hammersmith Apollo. And through AEG Live the company is also a significant concert promoter itself.

With critics raising competition concerns, the deal was passed to the Competition Commission in March, but a prelim report in July said that the regulator didn’t believe that an AEG business operating the Wembley Arena would result in “substantial lessening of competition” in the live entertainment space.

Confirming that viewpoint was now the Commission’s final ruling, Martin Cave, who chaired the inquiry, told reporters yesterday: “AEG’s opportunity to increase venue hire prices would be limited because factors such as capacity, availability, brand, reputation and personal preference are more important to acts booking the venue. Negotiation on the venue hire price takes place after the venue booking has been confirmed”.

He added: “We also considered whether AEG would have an incentive to reduce the quality of the venue after [taking over the running of Wembley Arena] and found that doing so could damage AEG both in financial terms and also in relation to its reputation at its other venues”.