Diller takes 49.6% stake in Ticketmaster

Barry Diller’s HSN Inc. finalized a deal to acquire 49.6% of Ticketmaster as the $215 million stock swap deal officially closed late Thursday. Diller assumed billionaire Paul Allen’s stake in the nation’s largest ticketer in exchange for Allen getting an 11% stake in HSN, parent company of the Home Shoppingt Network.

The pact, which was announced May 20, drew immediate fire from some investors and Wall Street analysts who asserted Ticketmaster sold control in the company without a premium being paid to stockholders (Daily Variety, May 20).

Since the proposed deal was announced, Ticketmaster stock has climbed $3 per share. The stock closed at $17.50 Thursday.

Allen swapped 12.3 million common shares of Ticketmaster stock for 7.2 million shares of HSN, and will take a seat on HSN’s board of directors alongside Ticketmaster prexy-CEO Fred Rosen and Allen’s rep, William Savoy, as part of the transaction.

Diller will get a seat on Ticketmaster’s board along with James Held, Home Shopping Network prexy-CEO and HSN vice chairman.

Also joining the Ticketmaster board is Jonathan Dolgen, chairman of Viacom Entertainment Group, and Peter Barton of Barton and Associates. The pair will serve as outside directors.

The deal teams HSN, which typically attracts an older female demographic to a shopping channel that reaches 70 million homes, with Ticketmaster, whose demographics tend to skew much younger.

It is expected that the two firms will utilize their combined resources, such as phone banks and processing systems, to offer cross-promotions and further exploit its audience’s desire for entertainment-related merchandise.

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