CTS Settles On TicTec

Within eight months of having to put out a statement saying his company wouldn’t be buying Switzerland’s top ticketing business, CTS chief exec Klaus-Peter Schulenberg has settled for swallowing up one of its market rivals.

Having lost out in last December’s bidding war for Ticketcorner AG, which ended with Zurich-based Capvis Equity Partners paying US$65 million for three-quarters of it, CTS has bought TicTec AG in a bid to challenge that company’s market supremacy.

Acknowledging that the country had “an almost monopolized ticketing market,” but not actually mentioning Ticketcorner by name, a July 27th CTS ad hoc statement described its new acquisition as “a force to be reckoned with.”

The 1 million tickets a year TicTec shifts is dwarfed by the 12 million Ticketcorner sells, but the German company wasn’t the only one to think the market leader’s £87 million capital valuation was overpriced.

U.S. giant Ticketmaster and TopTicketLine, which is owned by Holland’s Stage Entertainment International, are known to have balked at the price.

Schulenberg’s apparent belief that he can build TicTec to challenge a company that turns more than 20 times as much, 2 million Swiss Francs (US$1.6 million) compared with close to CFR 40 million (US$32.5 million), is no doubt bolstered by the fact CTS already operates the in-house ticketing systems in the Zurich Opera House, Schauspielhaus and a handful of other smaller Swiss theatres.

By adding the existing CTS business (about 1.4 million tickets per year) and the Basel-based TicTec’s 70 or so box offices in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, including some in major chain stores such as Migros and Manor, Schulenberg is beginning to build a platform to compete with the company he failed to buy.

He told Pollstar the acquisition of TicTec is another important step in the company’s European expansion and that he’s determined to extend TicTec’s activities and “significantly” increase its Swiss market share.

TicTec managing director Frank Schwegler said the takeover opens up excellent opportunities to benefit from the know-how of Europe’s leading player in ticketing and live entertainment.

TicTec’s also known as an innovator, and for some time has been providing systems for electronic access control and mobile ticketing, including using mobile phones as digital tickets.

Although Ticketcorner is likely to hold its position at the head of the market for the foreseeable future, CTS can still claim the territory in the battle for European market supremacy.

As Capvis is a private equity house, the Munich-based company does at least have the consolation of knowing the country hasn’t fallen to a rival such as Ticketmaster or TopTicketLine.

So far, CTS hasn’t been specific about what it paid for the Swiss company beyond saying it was “in single-digit millions,” an amount that it will have had no trouble funding from its cash surplus.

A week prior to CTS announcing the TicTec deal, the U.S.-based Ticketmaster bought Spain’s Tick Tack Ticket, rated just behind Servi Ticket as the country’s market leader, thereby opening up the battle for European supremacy to the south of the mainland.

– John Gammon