The government of Saudi Arabia has purchased over $500 million worth of stock in Live Nation, Ticketmaster‘s parent company. This translates to a roughly 5.7 percent stake in the ticketing and event corporation.
The Live Nation investment marks the latest move by the government’s Saudi Public Investment Fund, which is now the third largest shareholder of Live Nation. According to a public filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the fund acquired 12,337,569 shares on Monday.
This highly publicized move has already proved to be a boon for Live Nation, raising the stock by two percent just minutes after the market opened. By the end of the day, Live Nation’s stock was trading at $42.01, a 9.86 percent jump from the previous day. As the live music industry continues to be rocked by the spread of the novel coronavirus, this investment couldn’t have come at a better time. Live Nation’s stock is currently down 40 percent from this time last year, even with the investment from Saudi Arabia.
The company has implemented various measures to cut costs including furloughs, hiring freezes, 50 percent pay cuts for top executives, and company CEO Michael Rapino forgoing his $3 million salary. These internal measures still can’t save Live Nation from the reality of having to provide millions of dollars worth of ticket refunds for affected shows, an ever-evolving situation which has frequently drawn public ire.
Interestingly, this is not the first beleaguered company that the Saudi Public Investment Fund has supported throughout the pandemic. Earlier this month, the Fund acquiured an 8.2 percent stake in Carnival Corp, the cruise operator which has also been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, with its stock down 75 percent from last year. As a result of the Saudi government’s investment, the stock rose nearly 30 percent the day the purchase was announced.
The Live Nation investment is likely a result of Saudi Arabia’s interest in increasing tourism to the kingdom, at least before international travel was halted. The government has tried to make live events part of its tourism draw, especially concerts. Last October, K-pop sensation BTS performed a solo stadium show, the first foreign band to do so in Saudi Arabia. Even with the Live Nation investment, the kingdom may still have trouble drawing in entertainers. Many in the entertainment industry, particularly in Hollywood, have refused Saudi business after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. Firms have returned investments as well as canceled international conferences in Saudi Arabia as a result of the international controversy. Once live music opens back up, that industry may very well also shun Saudi Arabia, despite its Live Nation investment.
[H/T Hollywood Reporter]