Music industry leaders Ticketmaster and Live Nation are to merge to form a new company called Live Nation Entertainment.

A $2.5 billion (£1.73 billion) deal between the ticket seller and concert promoter is intended to create the "world's premier live entertainment company", the firms said in a statement.

Live Nation has already changed the face of the music business by signing multimillion dollar deals with the likes of Madonna, Jay-Z and U2.

Madonna's contract with Live Nation, sealed in October 2007, sees the entirety of her output, including albums, tours, merchandise and DVD, controlled by the Los Angeles-based company.

Live Nation also made moves in the British festival market last year by signing a contract with the owners of the T In The Park and Hydro Connect events.

And now it has further extended its reach in the industry with the merger with Ticketmaster, creating a firm with control of tour sponsorship, concert promotion and ticket sales.

"This combination will drive measurable benefits to consumers," said Live Nation chief executive Michael Rapino.

"Together, we will work to simplify the ticketing process and ultimately increase attendance at live events."

Bruce Springsteen earlier this month voiced concern over the proposed merger, claiming it would create a "near monopoly" on ticket sales.

11/02/2009 15:33:45