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MSG pays $125M for 50 pct stake in Azoff company

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Madison Square Garden Co. said Wednesday that it would invest $125 million for a 50 percent stake in a new company that will house the artist management business of longtime Eagles manager Irving Azoff.

Azoff will be chairman and CEO of the company and provide advisory services to MSG regarding management of live event venues, including the Forum in the Los Angeles area, which MSG acquired in June.

The deal comes about nine months after Azoff's abrupt departure as chairman from Live Nation Entertainment Inc. in late December and his resignation as CEO of Front Line, which he sold to Live Nation subsidiary Ticketmaster in 2008.

MSG will also provide up to $50 million in revolving loans to the new company, called Azoff MSG Entertainment LLC.

Including the management services business of the Eagles, other Azoff clients that will be managed by the new company include Van Halen, Christina Aguilera and Steely Dan.

The company will also own a 90 percent stake in a music publishing business; a 50 percent stake in Digital Brand Architects, which manages a network of bloggers; a television production and live event branding business; and an interactive music discovery TV show called "Streets of a City."

MSG executive chairman James Dolan said in a statement that the company's previous investment in Azoff's companies provided a positive return "and we believe this new venture offers us a compelling platform from which to capitalize on the enormous opportunities inherent in today's dynamic entertainment environment."

MSG shares closed down 24 cents at $58.01 before the deal was announced.