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Live Nation to open borders

Company to expand grasp on concert experience

NEW YORK — Live Nation prexy-CEO Michael Rapino, fresh off finalizing the company’s acquisition of House of Blues on Monday, announced expansion plans Tuesday that will see the nation’s largest live-venue operator move into all elements of the concert experience, from parking to merchandise to fan clubs.

“We’ve been moving to create a branded live-music company and maximize, expand and capture all of the dollars in the total live chain from the fan to the artists,” Rapino said during a conference call, giving few details about the expansion plans. “We’re looking to extend the two-hour experience with our fans and maximize all revenue in between.”

Live Nation, which was spun off from giant Clear Channel Communications into a separate public company late last year, also said it swung to a loss of $9 million last quarter from a $26 million profit the year before as higher costs offset higher revenue.

Revenue of $1.3 billion was up from $998 million the year before. Operating costs rose 43%, and the company had a $42.1 million expense related to the declining value of some sites.

Live Nation has been wheeling and dealing in Rapino’s first year at the helm, paying some $354 million for House of Blues and purchasing a merchandise company, while selling an athlete management company.

Rapino, who said House of Blues is the only concert presenter to succeed at branding itself, said the company will put some smaller venues up for sale.

Live Nation owns and operates 170 venues, including the 10 House of Blues halls. Company also books tours, most recently those of the Rolling Stones and Madonna.

“We have a lot of public momentum for the first time in a lot of years,” Rapino said, noting the company’s expansion plans include Asia and Eastern and Central Europe. He had no details, however.

Rapino also did not address Live Nation’s contract with Ticketmaster and whether that would be extended or if the company will go into the ticketing business.

Shares of Live Nation fell 7¢ to $22.56 in extended trading.

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