Accounting & Tax

Ticketmaster Takes Goodwill Hit As Stock Sinks

The recently spun-off company is banking on a merger with a key rival but faces an antitrust battle.
Stephen TaubMarch 20, 2009

Ticketmaster Entertainment says it took a $1.1 billion noncash, pretax impairment charge to goodwill in the fourth quarter. The charge reflected a plunge in share price since the company was spun off from IAC/InterActiveCorp in August 2008 and the recent economic uncertainty.

Ticketmaster’s stock debuted at $20, and early Friday afternoon was trading at around $3.70 per share.

The company has agreed to merge with rival Live Nation in a $2.5 billion all-stock deal. Shortly after the pact was struck, Live Nation recorded its own goodwill impairment charge of $269.9 million to reflect its stock’s 70 percent decline.

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The merger is now awaiting antitrust approval, which may prove difficult to get. Ticketmaster has been the target of critics who have accused it of abusing its near-monopoly position by charging huge fees for its services. Earlier this year, the company was widely criticized for redirecting ticket seekers for Bruce Springsteen’s tour to its resale ticketing Website, TicketsNow.

Under a settlement with New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, Ticketmaster agreed to stop linking customers to TicketsNow for at least one year and to pay $350,000 for the cost of the attorney general’s investigation, according to a Billboard report. In addition, Ticketmaster had to confirm that all tickets it receives for general public sales must be sold on its primary Website.