Monday, 19 March 2012

Will MAMA sale prompt new enquiry?

HMV's plan to sell its live music division, the MAMA Group, has now entered its second stage, after passing the deadline for first round bids. It seems interested bidders include both AEG Live and Live Nation’s Academy Group, both of whom already own UK venues. Live Nation’s acquisition of the Academy Music Group itself in 2007 prompted a Competition Commission enquiry which passed the sale, subject to the sale of two of AMG’s London venues and it will be interesting to see what competition regulators make of a combined Live Nation-MAMA or AEG-MAMA. The jewel in the MAMA crown is the Hammersmith Apollo, which CMU Daily reported “would be a perfect addition to AEG's UK venue portfolio, especially in the burgeoning live comedy market, the West London Apollo venue being the stepping stone a-list stand ups take before reaching the ultimate goal of selling out AEG's The O2 Arena on the east side of the capital”. Whether AEG would be interested in MAMA's other businesses, in the festivals, artist management and marketing partnership domains, isn't clear, and it seems possible that MAMA co-founder Dean James could head a partial management buy-out.

In a statement HMV said "HMV Group plc notes the recent press speculation regarding the strategic review of the HMV Live business. HMV can confirm that this review remains ongoing and that a number of parties have indicated an interest in acquiring the business. At this stage, there can be no certainty that any transaction will be concluded and a further announcement will be made as and when appropriate".

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