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"His efforts over the past two years have helped us establish Live Nation as the unquestionable leader in live music, across concert promotion, ticketing, artist management and sponsorship."
—--Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino

AZOFF VENTURES OFF

Mega-Macher Steps Down as Live Nation Chairman, Front Line CEO; Eagles, Xtina Said to Be Among Key Acts Leaving With Him
Irving Azoff will step down as Chairman of Live Nation Entertainment and CEO of Front Line Management, effective immediately, it was announced today.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Azoff received $12 million in cash, $2m in shares and $666,000 in stock options in the deal; as of this writing, Live Nation stock is trading up 3.67% at $9.31.

The paper also cites sources who claim he’ll take a portion of the management concern with him, including such top clients as The Eagles and Christina Aguilera.

Azoff, whose contract wasn’t due to expire until mid-2014, said in a statement that he looked forward to returning to “entrepreneurial” pursuits. Meanwhile, massive speculation surrounds an impending wholesale exit of artists represented by Front Line. Many key artists and managers associated with Front Line don’t have contracts with the company.

Considerable chatter also surrounds Azoff’s future plans--look for him to raise financing and start buying companies in the entertainment sector. Multiple sources also report that he will join the board of cable network Starz, which is Live Nation’s biggest shareholder.

He sold Front Line in pieces until 2011, when Live Nation paid $116m in cash and stock for the last 25% and appointed Azoff as topper.

 “While I am going to miss working with Irving as my partner and close friend,” reads a statement from Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino (who recently renewed his contact; see the item in our Rumor Mill), “his efforts over the past two years have helped us establish Live Nation as the unquestionable leader in live music, across concert promotion, ticketing, artist management and sponsorship."

"Over the past year we have made great progress both in delivering growth in our results and clarifying our priorities and growth plan going forward," Rapino added. "Though Irving can never be replaced, I also know we’ve got the best team in the industry in place, and I am confident we will continue to build on our success of the past few years.”

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