For the international contemporary live music industry

Radio giant pulls-out of festivals ownership

World News
May 1, 2019

Just four years after buying its way to being the second-largest festival-owner in the UK, at a cost of £75.86 million in the financial year ending March 2017 alone, radio giant Global is quitting the sector. 

Its portfolio of events is being split between the private equity-backed James Barton-led Superstruct Entertainment, and former Global festivals partner Broadwick Live.

The deal sees Superstruct move into the UK market with the acquisition of events such as Victorious Festival (cap. 100,000), South West Four (20,000), Kendal Calling (25,000), Truck (10,000), Tramlines (40,000) and Boardmasters (53,000), as well as Hideout in Croatia. Financial terms were not disclosed.

It means Barton once again has a significant investment in his home country, from where he founded the Creamfields festival brand, later sold to Live Nation Entertainment (LNE). 

“This acquisition further demonstrates that Superstruct is committed to building a strong portfolio of live entertainment brands,” he says.  “We look forward to supporting the different festivals in their growth in their respective markets.”

Superstruct owns festivals such as Sziget (70,000) in Hungary and Flow (10,000) in Finland, and has invested in Oya (15,000) in Norway. Parent company Providence Equity has over $40 billion under management, including investments in Patron Technology, the parent company of festival app developer Greencopper, event management software creator Marcato, and ticketing platforms Ticketleap and ShowClix.

Meanwhile, it is understood Broadwick Live is taking back ownership of its festivals such as  Standon Calling (13,000) and Field Day (30,000).

Global’s touring arm was scrapped in 2017 after executives Sam Bush and Joe Schiavon moved to LNE. At the time Global said it wanted to focus on its festivals.

The largest commercial radio group in Europe, Global’s stations in the UK  include Capital, LBC and Classic FM, and it also has a substantial outdoor advertising interests.

Its decision to exit the live music sector is reminiscent of US radio station and billboards giant Clear Channel Communications’s acquisition of SFX Entertainment for $4.4 billion in 2000. Unable to find anticipated synergy between live entertainment and radio, it spun-off the division as Live Nation five years later with debts of around $750 million.

Global declined to comment as Audience went to print.

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