Live Nation Sale Shakes up Theatreland???

The theatrical landscape in the West End and beyond could soon witness a major overhaul if Live Nation succeeds in finding a suitable buyer for its UK theatre interests. According to the Stage newspaper, the global live entertainment group has put all 17 of its UK theatres on the block for an estimated asking price of £75 million.

These include the West End musical houses the Apollo Victoria and the Lyceum, homes to Wicked and The Lion King respectively, and a one-third stake in the Dominion, where We Will Rock You resides, as well as prominent regional houses such as the Manchester Palace and the Bristol Hippodrome.

The speculative “fishing” exercise follows the $90 million sale of its US theatres in 2007, as the company continues to focus efforts on its live music and ticketing operations. Its various music arenas in this country are not up for sale, and its pending merger with Ticketmaster, announced in February and still awaiting US regulatory approval, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

According to the Stage, there are 20 interested parties in the new theatre sale, with likely bidders including existing West End players the Ambassador Theatre Group and Stage Entertainment as well as Key Brand Entertainment, which bought Live Nation’s Stateside theatre properties. Speculation that Live Nation may sell off its UK theatre arm have been rife since an organisational restructure four years ago (See News, 15 Dec 2005).