Ticketmaster, Live Nation may merge

Deal could be announced next week

Global ticket seller Ticketmaster Entertainment is near a deal to combine its operations with concert promoter Live Nation, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said the boards of the two companies had not yet approved the deal, which would create a company called Live Nation Ticketmaster.

It said, however, that the deal could be announced as early as next week. It would not entail any exchange of cash, the paper reported on its website.

Live Nation spokesman John Vlautin said the company does not comment on "rumors and speculation." Spokesmen for Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

In October, West Hollywood-based Ticketmaster completed the purchase of a majority stake in talent agency Front Line Management Group for $123 million in cash. That deal was seen as allowing Ticketmaster to better compete withBeverly Hills-based Live Nation, which is increasingly signing comprehensive rights deals with artists and started up its own ticketing operation in January.

The Journal said that a hitch in a deal between Ticketmaster and Live Nation would be antitrust concerns raised by combining two companies with such powerful positions in the music industry.