Endeavor's Ari Emanuel leaves Live Nation board over Justice Department's antitrust concerns

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Editor-in-Chief of Fast Company, Robert Safian (L) and co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor Ari Emanuel speak onstage during 'The Next Intersection For Hollywood with William Morris Endeavor's Ari Emanuel, Patrick Whitesell and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson' at the Fast Company Innovation Festival on November 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Fast Company)
Fast Company Editor Robert Safian, left, and Endeavor Chief Executive Ari Emanuel speak onstage at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York City in 2015. (Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images for Fast Company)

Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel and another executive have resigned their seats on the board of Live Nation after the Department of Justice cited antitrust concerns.

The Justice Department said it raised objections about Emanuel and President Mark Shapiro holding board seats with Live Nation, a Beverly Hills-based operator and promoter of live music concerts.

"These resignations ensure that Endeavor and Live Nation will compete independently,” Acting Assistant Atty. Gen. Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in a statement. “Executives are not permitted to hold board positions on companies that compete with each other. The division will enforce the antitrust laws to make sure that all companies compete on the merits.”

The Justice Department raised concerns that that executives holding seats on both Endeavor and Live Nation's boards constituted an "illegal interlocking directorate." Federal antitrust law prohibits a person from being a director in a competing company, except under certain circumstances.

In January 2020, Endeavor, owner of UFC and the powerful WME agency, acquired On Location Experiences, a hospitality and live events company. The deal was valued at $660 million, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to comment.

The disclosure comes two months after Endeavor made a splash on Wall Street with an initial public offering as the company bets big on live sports and entertainment making a massive resurgence as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

Live Nation said Emanuel's June 3 resignation was not caused by any disagreement or matter relating to its operations, policies or practices, according to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Since joining the Board in 2007, Ari’s input and insights have played a beneficial role as we’ve fostered years of growth at Live Nation," Live Nation said. "We are deeply appreciative of his contributions to the company and wish him the best of luck in all he does moving forward.”

Endeavor, based in Beverly Hills, said in a statement: “While there has been no violation of law, we understand and respect the DOJ’s concerns regarding the current similarities of our businesses.”

Other executives have resigned from boards of rival businesses. In 2019, Disney executive Bob Iger left Apple's board, before the iPhone maker launched its streaming service, Apple TV+.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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