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Desmond sells MCD to Live Nation and himself

World News
August 28, 2018

IRELAND/UNITED KINGDOM        

Ireland’s dominant promoter Denis Desmond has sold his MCD Productions company to a 50/50 UK partnership between Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) and his Gaiety Investments business, which owns venues in Dublin.

The deal effectively means Desmond and wife Caroline Downey, who owned MCD, will retain half the shares in the company through LN-Gaiety, which was formed in 2004 to takeover assets from Vince Power’s Mean Fiddler Music Group (MFMG).

LN-Gaiety (LNG) initially formed Festival Republic to take over MFMG’s Reading (now 90,000) and Leeds (now 80,000) festivals, launched Latitude (35,000) and last year acquired a majority stake in the 45,000-capacity Isle of Wight Festival (see Audience issue 212).

LNG also now owns 56 per cent of UK venue chain Academy Music Group (AMG), following a restructure, in which Desmond was an original shareholder, along with UK promoters Simon Moran of SJM Concerts and Bob Angus of Metropolis Music (now LNE-owned).

Desmond, who was long-rumoured to have been in talks with LNE, was appointed non-executive chairman of LNE in the UK in 2015.

“This simplifies matters for us and it’s business as usual,” Desmond tells Audience.

“We work very well with Live Nation and I believe that the deal will open doors for Irish acts through the Live Nation network of 120 festivals worldwide.”

No financial details of the deal have been disclosed.

Gaiety Investments’ ownership of Dublin’s Olympia (1,600) and Gaiety Theatre (2,000) remains unaffected by the takeover.

An LNE spokeswoman says, “Adding the complementary MCD Productions to our successful joint venture is the logical next step in the development of LN-Gaiety Holdings.”

MCD, which was founded in 1980, sells more than one million tickets a year in Ireland and reported revenue of €223.8m ($256.7m) and pre-tax profits of €6.1m ($6.9m) in 2016. It works with artistes such as U2, Taylor Swift, Coldplay and Biffy Clyro.

This is understood to be the first time LNE in the UK has acquired a promoter based in another country.

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