CCE Spinco Focus Sharpens

A clearer picture of the company formerly known as Clear Channel Entertainment has begun to emerge in the weeks, or perhaps even days, before it is spun off from its corporate parent to begin life as a new firm.

CCE Spinco filed an amended Form 10-12/B with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission November 14th containing details of the separation from Clear Channel Communications.

However, the document held no clue as to what the new company’s name might be or a specific date for the spin-off.

The amended filing also transfers employment agreements and contracts from Clear Channel to CCE Spinco, including several belonging to members of the yet-to-be-named company’s corporate leadership.

Coinciding with the filing, CCE Spinco President/CEO Michael Rapino distributed an internal memo to inform employees of the new company’s corporate organization and leadership. Structural changes streamline the Clear Channel model from 14 business units to six, dividing what had been three main divisions into “content” and “distribution” sides.

“We’ve done this to be sure our focus remains tight, our strategy remains clear, and that we are able to devote the proper resources to each of our businesses so they are positioned to succeed,” Rapino wrote in the memo.

In the top corporate ranks of the new organization, Alan Ridgeway is promoted to chief financial officer after leading CCE’s successful European music division.

There are still apparently some corporate-level positions to be filled – including that of General Counsel, currently held down by Clear Channel Communications Chief Legal Officer Andrew Levin, who presumably would remain with CCC. A human relations senior VP position also remained vacant at press time.

The corporate team will be based in Los Angeles and is “charged with managing the new public company requirements that our new freedom and flexibility brings,” Rapino said.

In terms of the day-to-day operation of the company, the content side includes global music and theatrical divisions, and SFX Sports. The distribution side focuses on venue management and sponsorships, artist services and consumer technology products.

In the global music division, Arthur Fogel will continue to head up TNA Entertainment while serving as president of Global Touring.

Charlie Walker is tapped as North America music president and Carl Pernow will preside over International. Charlie Mancuso will top the motorsports division and report to Walker rather than SFX Sports, which will focus strictly on athlete representation.

The global theatrical division will be headed up by chairman David Ian, who came to CCE U.K. from David Ian Productions Ltd., and focus exclusively on producing theatrical productions for Broadway, London’s West End and the “Presenting Broadway Across America” subscription series. North American Theatrical CEO Steve Winton will report to Ian.

While neither document mentioned present CCE Productions Chairman/CEO Scott Zeiger, he was recently promoted to the position of chief creative officer, with duties including development of content, intellectual properties, new entertainment events and fixed-based attractions.

Among those fixed attractions is the permanent installation of “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Venetian Resort and Casino, as well as the programming and operation of the new Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino (formerly the Aladdin), both in Las Vegas.

“At the core of our business strategy is to service our two targets – the Artist and the Fan,” Rapino wrote. “This approach emphasizes our two main strengths – content acquisition and distribution (whether that be physical distribution in our venues or through online and wireless delivery).”

Moving over to the “distribution” side, CCE Properties President/CEO Bruce Eskowitz is named president of the newly formed global venue management and sponsorships unit, overseeing operation of 141 venues globally. Most of those venues are amphitheatres but they also include music and theatre venues. Paul Latham, CEO of CCE Music U.K., will report to Eskowitz as CEO of international venues.

“At the core of everything we do is marketing,” Rapino wrote. “But whether I ask talent or members of our staffs what we need to do to help sell more tickets, I hear a similar theme – more national marketing partners to drive ticket sales, more national programs to drive venue programs, and more consumer products to increase revenue.”

To that end, Faisel Durrani becomes president of marketing where he will oversee artist services, including research, database marketing, public relations, tour marketing and design, TV/DVD projects, live streaming and the Instant Live service. Bryan Perez becomes president of a new interactive technologies division, which will also drive ticketing, including NEXT Tickets, and artist product initiatives.

While it’s not certain whether the trimming of personnel and offices has been completed in the run-up to creating the stand-alone company, Rapino acknowledged the cuts that have already been made and added that the spin-off and re-naming of the company is still expected by the end of the year.

“… As you know, we have eliminated some positions in each of our business units,” Rapino said. “The decision to eliminate positions is never an easy one, but the choice here was clear. We are committed to beginning life as an independent company in the strongest, most focused position and that includes having the courage to make tough decisions.”

– Deborah Speer