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Bestivals in Live Nation take-over

World News
December 4, 2018

UNITED KINGDOM              

Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) has taken control of two festivals from a creditor of the events who bought them out of administration.

Bestival (cap. 40,000) and Camp Bestival (26,000) – previously owned by companies run by co-founder Robert Gorham (aka DJ Rob da Bank – were forced into administration by major creditor The Richmond Group (TRG), with overall debts of nearly £6 million ($7.6m).

TRG, itself owed £2.14m ($2.7m) by the companies, then purchased the assets for £1.1 million (see www.liveuk.com) through a newly-formed company, Safe Festivals Group Ltd.

Then, on 15 October a controlling 75 per cent of Safe Festivals’ shares were transferred to LNE subsidiary MAMA Festivals, with LNE non-executive chairman Denis Desmond appointed a director.

Although media reports at the time suggested the purchase was a joint venture between LNE and Desmond-owned festival promoter LN-Gaiety and SJM Concerts, it was still not clear at press time who owned the remaining 25 per cent. LNE and SJM declined to comment.

Among more than 450 creditors of the failed companies were LNE-owned Ticketmaster, which gave the festivals an advance of £1.2m ($1.53m) in July, artistes including London Grammar owed £175,000 ($223,000), Plan B due £105,000 ($134,000) and First Aid Kit owed £38,500 ($49,000), and AP Security owed £340,000 ($430,000).

Meanwhile there has been no mention of the da Bank-founded 30,000-capacity Common People festivals in Oxford and Southampton, although it has been confirmed to Audience that they, along with Bestival and Camp Bestival, have all ceased to be members of the Association of independent Festivals (AIF), an organisation da Bank helped to establish.

Last year AIF asked the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate LNE’s dominance in the festival market.

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