Live Nation Entertainment Chairman Irving Azoff intends to relieve himself of just more than 2 million shares in the coming year, beginning immediately, in a plan adopted in June.
The plan, reported in Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed Aug. 14, covers periodic sales up to a maximum of 2,036,500 shares of LYV stock over the next year “under certain conditions, beginning in August of 2012.”
The majority of shares to be sold under the plan were issued to him in Feb. 2011 as partial consideration of Live Nation’s purchase of Azoff’s stake in Front Line Management that it didn’t already own.
According to the SEC filing, “Azoff entered into the plan in order to diversify his portfolio and for tax planning purposes.”
The plan comes on the heels of Liberty Media’s recent finalization of a 9.5 million-share acquisition of LYV shares, as well as the announcement that it intends to spin off its Starz cable network – a move that frees up a lot of cash for stock buys.
It’s no secret that Liberty Media boss John Malone -- whose representative, CEO Greg Maffei, sits on Live Nation’s board -- covets control of satellite radio’s SiriusXM. But the ongoing acquisition of 26 percent of LYV’s outstanding shares in recent months, coupled with the company’s sanctioned approval to buy up to 35 percent, means eyes will likely be on Azoff and Malone to make a deal.
With Azoff looking to sell and Malone eyeing shares to buy, it appears the stars could be aligning for Liberty to gain an even stronger Live Nation foothold, setting the scene for plenty of speculation about LNE’s future.