Saudi Arabia Buys $500 Million Stake in Live Nation, Stock Rises

The firm has been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, with essentially all concerts and sporting events around the world on hold.

The government of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has acquired a 5.7 percent stake in Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund disclosed the stake, comprising 12,337,569 shares in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday morning.

Based on Live Nation’s share prices as of this writing, the investment is valued at just shy of $500 million. Live Nation’s share price jumped at the news, rising by more than 2 percent in the first few minutes of trading. The investment is passive, and was purchased on the open market. The Saudi Public Investment Fund is now the company’s third-largest shareholder, with John Malone’s Liberty Media the largest individual shareholder with a 33 percent stake.

Live Nation has been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, with essentially all concerts and sporting events around the world on hold. The company has been sued as it has been reluctant to offer full refunds to customers, though it has since amended its refund rules to address those complaints. The company’s share price is down by more than 40 percent from January 1, thanks largely to the pandemic.

The company has been taking action to bolster its liquidity amid the crisis, including opening a new $120 million revolving credit account, amending an existing credit agreement and significantly decreasing costs, including by reducing salaries.

The investment in Live Nation is the second by the Saudi government this month in an industry hit hard by the pandemic. The Saudi Public Investment Fund also took a $775 million stake in Carnival Cruises.

Saudi Arabia had been trying to boost its tourism industry before the pandemic upended international travel, and live events and concerts had been a big part of that strategy. Last October the K-pop superstars BTS became the first foreign band to perform a solo stadium show in the country.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, many firms have been reluctant to take investment from the fund following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. Endeavor returned a $400 million investment it received from the fund last year. Many notable names from the world of media and entertainment also canceled an appearance at a major conference to be hosted in Riyadh called the Future Investment Initiative.

SOURCE The Hollywood Reporter

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