O2 Arena and Hammersmith Apollo owners join €300m bidding race for See Tickets (report)

Nainoa Shizuru via Unsplash

The race to acquire See Tickets, a major UK ticketing merchant, has intensified with the entry of the owners of London’s O2 Arena and Hammersmith Apollo.

Paris-based multinational media group Vivendi initiated the sale process, targeting up to €300 million (USD $323 million) as the sale price for See Tickets, according to two sources cited by the Financial Times on Monday (December 11).

See Tickets has been a key player in the UK live events sector since the 1990s, originating from the transition of Nottingham-based record shop Way Ahead Records into live event ticket sales, followed by a rebranding as See Tickets.

Vivendi acquired the business in September 2011 for €96 million, incorporating it into its live entertainment and ticketing subsidiary, Vivendi Village, alongside venues like L’Olympia concert hall and L’Oeuvre theater in Paris.

Indicative bids for See Tickets have been submitted in recent weeks by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the owner of the O2 Arena, and German ticketing group CTS Eventim, which co-owns Hammersmith Apollo with AEG, the FT said.

CTS Eventim, the owner of Berlin’s Waldbühne concert theater, has seen rapid expansion in its ticketing arm, with group revenues reaching €1.75 billion in the first nine months of this year, including 36% growth in ticketing. AEG, second to Ticketmaster in US market share, aims to expand its ticketing business internationally.

See Tickets offers an attractive proposition for the potential buyers, with a projected 43 million tickets sold across 10 countries this year and an events arm behind major European events such as the UK’s Love Supreme festival. See Tickets generates a substantial portion of its ticketing revenues from the US, enhancing its global appeal.

The acquisition of See Tickets would bolster the successful bidder’s position against the industry leader, Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster. Live Nation is unlikely to bid due to potential antitrust concerns, particularly as it is already under scrutiny in the US for ticket pricing practices that led to controversies during Taylor Swift’s and Bruce Springsteen’s concert tours.

Despite economic pressures, the live events industry is thriving, fueling a bidding war for See Tickets. Other interested parties are expected to join, drawn by See Tickets’ projected high single-digit growth over the next few years, with estimated revenues of €147 million in 2023, the FT noted.

See Tickets represents the latest asset disposal by Vivendi, which used to own Universal Music Group before spinning off its 60% stake in February 2021. The company still holds a 10% stake in UMG. Earlier this year, Vivendi acquired publishing house and retail company Lagardère.

Sky News first reported the sale process for See Tickets in September,  reporting that Vivendi was concerned about the company’s scale compared to industry giants. 

The disposal of See Tickets also comes as Vivendi Village reported a €30 million year-over-year drop in revenues during the third quarter, and a €25 million YoY decrease in revenue in the first nine months of 2023.

“Vivendi has given an exploratory mandate to a bank to sell its ticketing and festivals businesses (grouped within the Vivendi Village entity). These businesses could be further developed and thus launch a new phase in their growth,” the company said in its third-quarter report released in October.

Music Business Worldwide

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