Fiddler Goes For £38 Million

Clear Channel Entertainment and Ireland’s MCD are on the verge of buying Mean Fiddler Music Group for £37.9 million (US$71.6 million).

The company’s smaller shareholders are likely to follow Vince Power, Harry Lambert and MCD’s Denis Desmond – who already owns 24.3 percent of the company – in accepting an offer that amounts to 60 pence a share. That’s 27.7 percent over the price at the time of the offer (which was 47 pence) and 4.75p up on the April 8th closing price.

It also compares favourably with the 55p at which Mean Fiddler had hoped to place shares in September in an attempt to merge with a smaller company. Mean Fiddler shares slumped 40 percent after that placing was pulled due to boardroom squabbles, but it recovered steadily on the news of a possible takeover and closed at 55.25p on the day before the takeover was confirmed.

The deal will see Mean Fiddler founder and chairman Power depart the company with around £12.9 million (US$24.3 million), while Desmond takes a £3.4 million (US$6.4 million) profit on the £5.8 million worth of shares he bought a little more than a year ago.

Along with Lambert, who will take around £2.9 million, other private investors (Ashwell Holdings Limited with 4.4 million shares and Scanfrost Limited with 4.1 million), have also pledged to back the offer, which gives Hamsard 2786 – the joint venture company Clear Channel and MCD set up to do the deal – the go-ahead on more than 80 percent of Mean Fiddler’s stock. The remaining 20 percent looks a formality.

Hamsard will get ownership of the U.K.’s Reading and Leeds Festivals and a raft of London venues including The Astoria, The Forum, The Mean Fiddler, The Garage, Jazz Café and Borderline. It also gets Mean Fiddler’s touring division, which has recently promoted shows with Destiny’s Child, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.

On February 14th, a sharp rise in its share price (up 13 percent on the day to 53 pence) led Mean Fiddler to tell the London stock exchange it was under offer. A month later (March 11th), the bidder was confirmed as being Clear Channel working in cahoots with Desmond.

A CCE press release dated April 11th quoted Clear Channel Chairman / CEO Brian Becker as saying, “We are very pleased to be partnering in this acquisition with Denis Desmond, one of the best promoters in Europe. We believe that together we can take Mean Fiddler, the company that Vince Power has successfully grown out of one small venue, to even greater heights.”

Desmond added, “I’m looking forward to working with Clear Channel to continue the great work that Vince [Power] has done in building Mean Fiddler.”