Clear Channel’s US Spin-Off Raises Doubts in UKDate: 15 December 2005
The announcement today of the spin-off of the $2.75 billion Clear Channel Entertainment (CCE) from its US conglomerate parent, Clear Channel Communications, is likely to have a major impact on the UK’s theatrical landscape.
As of 21 December 2005, the ‘Spinco’, to be renamed Live Nation according to US industry bible Variety, will operate as an independent, publicly traded company with three separate live entertainment divisions – theatrical, music and sports – also incorporating venue ownership and management. There is widespread speculation that, after global rationalisation, the new company, or its parts, may be sold off to another market player.
In the UK, Clear Channel (then called SFX) came in strong in 1999 when it acquired Britain’s then-largest theatre operator, the Apollo Leisure Group, for a sum of nearly £160 million. Amongst its London interests, the company counts the West End musical houses the Apollo Victoria, the Lyceum (pictured) and the Dominion. The majority of its theatres (21 in total) are based outside the capital, taking in such prominent regional houses as the Palace in Manchester and the Hippodrome in Bristol.
On the production side, Clear Channel has scored its biggest West End hit with the multi award-winning transfer of Mel Brooks’ The Producers, still running at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and has co-produced other big musical successes including Anything Goes and Guys and Dolls, currently at the Piccadilly, as well as myriad tours. In the new year, it’s due to co-produce a revival of The Sound of Music with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group.
Briton David Ian – formerly managing director of Clear Channel Entertainment Europe – has been appointed as the new head of the spun-off company’s theatrical division globally. Substantial redundancies have already been reported at the CCE’s London offices, though nothing has yet been confirmed. An official announcement is expected shortly.
Based in San Antonio, Texas, Clear Channel Communications, Inc is a global media company which specialises in radio, television and outdoor advertising displays.
- by Terri Paddock