Did CTS Want To Rock & More?

Unequivocally denying there’s any truth to the rumor that he’s in negotiations to hive off his company to German ticketing giant CTS Eventim, Wolfgang Klinger said, “No – we are not for sale anyway.”

The live music biz grapevine running through Germany and Austria has been ripe with gossip stories saying Klinger’s Vienna-based Rock & More will be bought by CTS.

But the results of Pollstar‘s enquiries suggest that – should a deal be done – it’s not likely to be in the immediate future.

CTS chief Klaus-Peter Schulenberg wasn’t so unequivocal in his denial.

First he said, “I cannot confirm this” and then he followed up with: “CTS has not acquired part of Wolfgang Klinger’s Rock & More in Austria.”

The rumor probably grew because the story made sense. Schulenberg already has promoting interests in Austria through his Medusa Group promoters.

Folkert Koopmans’ Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio has a share in Nova Music and three major festivals (Frequency, Nova and Lovely Days). And Marek Lieberberg and Dieter Semmel share offices in Vienna.

But what might interest CTS most is the ticketing business in the neighbouring countries.

It has had a share in the Austrian ticketing business since 1999, when it bought a majority holding in Ticket Express from Klinger and his former Rock Production promoting partner Andy Eggar. But the countries that once made up Yugoslavia are still relatively untapped markets and obvious targets for development.

The portfolio of acts Rock & More promotes, including major outdoor shows such as this summer’s Rolling Stones gigs, hardly puts it in direct competition with either Koopmans, Lieberberg or Semmel. The fact it has these high-profile events in such places as Zagreb and Belgrade makes it an ideal content provider for Schulenberg’s expanding ticketing business.

As the live music business develops in old Yugoslavia and the Balkan region, Schulenberg’s main ticketing competitor would look to be Serge Grimaux and his Prague-based Ticketpro.

Grimaux is also a co-director of Interkoncerts, the promoting company he and Robert Porkert sold to then-Clear Channel, so he also has a strong content provider.

Ticketpro is the market leader in Czech Republic and Hungary, where Live Nation‘s Multimedia is content provider, and also has a Polish office.

It already has a toehold in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, where Live Nation competes directly with Klinger for the major acts.

The tickets for the upcoming Rolling Stones shows in Belgrade and Zagreb, both co-promoted by Rock & More, will go through CTS.

Schulenberg did take a look at the Austrian live music business about five years ago. He passed up the chance to finance a rescue package for Austrian Promoters Group (APG) in return for a stake in the company.

The financial collapse of Libro, APG’s parent company, had left the Austrian promoters without financial backing and CTS looks to have decided to just let the whole thing collapse.

At the time, Rock Production – Klinger’s part of APG – had already tanked with debts of a couple million euros.

However, Schulenberg has shown an interest in picking up some of the old APG pieces including a share (through Scorpio) of Nova Music. But Ewald Tatar, Paul Debnam and Thomas Zifkovits had all left the APG umbrella before the wind blew it over.

– John Gammon