UK-based See Tickets, which industry insiders last week believed was going to be acquired by CTS Eventim, has been bought by French entertainment and telecom conglomerate Vivendi for just under $135 million.
Among its other holdings, Vivendi owns the major-label record company Universal Music Group (UMG), so the move of adding a ticketing company to the mix will give UMG access to hundreds of thousands of music fans for marketing purposes.
“This acquisition complements the Group’s different businesses,” Vivendi said in a statement, adding that See Tickets has “particularly strong positions in the theatre and live music segments.” Vivendi bought See from Dutch holding company Parcom Capital. “It follows the acquisition in December 2010 of French leading on-line ticketing company Digitick.”
See Tickets is the second-largest ticketing company in the UK, behind Ticketmaster, and holds an estimated 20 percent of that market. Among the events and venues that use See for ticketing include the Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds festivals and London’s O2 Arena.
With the See acquisition, Vivendi and UMG appear to be taking a page out of rival Live Nation’s play book. Like Live Nation, UMG owns a merchandising division and an artist management entity, so adding more ticketing muscle to its holdings — particularly in the lucrative UK market — could reap big benefits for Vivendi.
While the Vivendi acquisition makes sense, it still came as a surprise because the company had successfully kept its intentions out of the press. Germany-based Eventim, Europe’s largest ticketing company, was believed to have the inside track to acquire See, partly because it had recently hired former See Chairman and CEO Nick Blackburn to run its UK division. In addition, Eventim had already bought See’s German ticketing operation, which would complement See’s UK holdings.
Besides Eventim, Anschutz Entertainment Group and Ambassador Theatre Group were also prospective buyers for See, but neither appeared to get as close to buying See as Eventim and Vivendi.