Schulenburg Holds Watching Brief

“We have a high opinion of Ticketmaster and will see what will come of its cooperation with DEAG,” CTS chief Klaus-Peter Schulenberg said in reaction to the linking up of the world’s biggest ticket-seller and his main live music promoting rival.

Schulenberg originally greeted DEAG chief Peter Schwenkow’s late August announcement that his company was throwing down the gauntlet and challenging CTS in its own core market by saying, “We will react to DEAG entering the ticketing market once they’ve done so.” He must now be looking at how far through the GAS (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) region the battle will spread.

Industry rumour and opinion suggests there could be a clash in Switzerland, where the Zurich-based Ticketcorner looks right for acquisition and it’s easy to make a case for both companies being interested.

Paul Lafontaine, Ticketmaster’s vice president of European business development, has already said that he’s teamed with DEAG to create a base in “Germany and the surrounding German-speaking countries,” which puts Switzerland top of the list, and Andre Bechir’s Good News – which is part-owned by Schwenkow’s company – must be easily its biggest customer.

CTS already has ticketing operations in Austria and several southern European countries down to the Balkans, many of which have Austrian promoter Wolfgang Klinger as a partner, and a Swiss takeover would look a natural part of consolidation plans.

With Ticketmaster joining with DEAG to compete with CTS to his west, and with a string of CTS subsidiaries to his south and east, Serge Grimaux’s Prague-based Ticketpro looks another obvious target to come in range.

Lafontaine has been less forthcoming about the Czech market: “We always entertain conversations with good ticketing companies. I can’t comment on which companies they are.”

However, Bonnie Poindexter – the company’s director of corporate communications – appears ready for a battle on any square of the board.

Replying to questions on the likelihood of some fierce competition on the European front, she told Pollstar, “We expect it, we’re prepared for it, and we have the products and services designed to compete with any company.

“There’s no question that the ticketing business is competitive, not just in Europe but across the world. Our ability to deliver a world-class solution today while developing new and better technology for the future is an important capability we have that makes us competitive.”

Neither Schwenkow, Schulenberg, LaFontaine nor Poindexter would be drawn on whether fierce competition could result in the punters benefiting from the companies reducing commission margins to attract business.

— John Gammon