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Live Nation's Cohl resigns

June 21, 2008|From Bloomberg News

Live Nation Inc.'s Michael Cohl stepped down as chairman of the world's largest concert promoter after a report of a strategy dispute with Chief Executive Michael Rapino.

Cohl, who held the post since February, will become a consultant to the company, Beverly Hills-based Live Nation said Friday. A successor wasn't named.

Live Nation shares fell $1.27, or 9.8%, to $11.73 after a Wall Street Journal report Thursday that Cohl might leave over the strategy dispute. The shares have declined 19% this year.

Cohl preferred to ramp up so-called "360" deals with artists, agreements that in the past had topped $100 million and included recording, tours and merchandise sales, the Journal said. Rapino wanted to put the brakes on that effort.

"Cohl wanted to hurry up and get more of the artists locked up so they didn't lose them to competitors," said David Joyce of trading firm Miller Tabak & Co. "The market is very nervous right now regarding those deals, and that's why there was the disconnect," Joyce said.

In September, Cohl became CEO of the Live Nation Artists unit, which lured Madonna away from Warner Music Group Corp. Live Nation signed deals with Madonna and Jay-Z valued at $120 million and $150 million, respectively, the Journal said.

Cohl, 60, joined the company's board of directors in 2006 after Live Nation bought a controlling stake in Concert Productions International, which he founded.

He has managed tours for more than 150 artists, including Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and U2.

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