Billboard -- Irving Azoff, chairman of Live Nation Entertainment and no. 1 on Billboard's Power 100 list earlier this year, will leave the company effective immediately, Billboard has confirmed.
In conjunction with this change, Liberty Media Corporation has purchased 1.7 million shares of Live Nation stock from Azoff, increasing its stake to 26.4%, according to a press release.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Azoff is expected soon to join the board of Starz, the cable-television company owned by Liberty Media Corp., which also is Live Nation's biggest shareholder. Liberty is expected to spin Starz off in early 2013.
Azoff's contract hadn't been due to expire until mid-2014. Live Nation Chief Executive Michael Rapino's contract, also due to expire in 2014, was renewed for a new five-year term last week.
"After successfully overseeing the integration of Live Nation and Ticketmaster over the past two years, my job here is done. We put together the leading company across concert promotion, ticketing, sponsorship and artist management and delivered the great results promised by the merger," said Mr. Azoff. "I especially enjoyed my time with my partner Michael Rapino, and he has demonstrated the ability to lead this company from now on. I'm looking forward to returning to the entrepreneurial world and continuing to work with all my friends and colleagues at Live Nation."
"Irving has been a valuable partner and friend for the past few years," said Mr. Rapino, President and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment. "We will certainly miss him and we thank him for his many contributions in building Live Nation to the global company it is today, entertaining 50 million fans and selling 200 million tickets in more than 40 countries around the world. I look forward to continuing to work with Irving on his artists' tours for years to come."
Billboard.biz will have more on this news shortly.