Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund acquired a 5.7 percent stake in Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation. The company has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with all concerts, sporting events and large gatherings brought to a halt for the foreseeable future.
The stake, comprising 12,337,569 shares, was disclosed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund to the Security and Exchange Commission on Monday morning. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the investment is valued at about $500 million. Live Nation’s share prices increased by more than two percent within minutes of the investment, which was purchased on the open market. This now makes the Saudi Public Investment Fund the third-largest shareholder of Live Nation.
In the midst of the pandemic, Live Nation has been sued due to a reluctance to give full refunds to customers amid event cancellations. The company has since adjusted its refund policy in order to address complaints. Live Nation’s shares have dropped over 40 percent since January 1, namely due to the pandemic.
Live Nation isn’t the only company that Saudi Arabia has invested in since the start of the pandemic. A $775 million stake in Carnival Cruises was acquired by the Saudi Public Investment Fund last month. Saudi Arabia has recently been trying to bolster tourism, which is currently put on a hold due to obvious travel precautions. Concerts have so far been an integral part of their tourism strategy, with K-pop idols BTS becoming the first international group to perform a solo stadium show in the country last October.
After Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in October 2018, many businesses have been wary of taking investments from the fund after the Saudi government was largely deemed culpable. Last year, Endeavor returned a $400 million investment it received from the Saudi Public Investment Fund.