Will MAMA Get Cross?

Even those who don’t have a penny invested in the outcome will be intrigued to see if MAMA directors Adam Driscoll and Dean James get cross and follow up with a hostile takeover bid after having their approach for Sanctuary Music Group knocked back.

Sanctuary released a July 29th statement saying it met with MAMA’s representatives to hear what they had to say, and concluded the approach is “without merit and is not in the interests of the company’s shareholders.” Sanctuary has the management of a long list of international acts including Guns N’ Roses, Elton John, Morrissey, The Who, and Joss Stone, a merchandising operation (Bravado) and top London booking agencies Helter Skelter and K2 Agency.

As far as Sanctuary is concerned, the discussions are over and that’s the end of the matter. The statement also says the board believes the company has “a strong, independent and long-term future.”

Two days earlier the troubled music group cleared up the outstanding queries over the anomalies in its 2005 accounts, likely much to the satisfaction of the Financial Reporting Review Panel.

The panel has said it has completed its inquiry and is satisfied the fundamental errors have been corrected. It also said it welcomed the actions taken by directors, which included the dumping of company founder and chief exec Andy Taylor.

It wasn’t possible at press time to get comment from James – a former Mean Fiddler chief exec – or Driscoll, founder of Channelfly, about their plans for a hostile bid.

Even before their first approach was rejected, papers including Financial Times and The Guardian suggested they would probably end up having to take the hostile route.

Prior to the meeting with Sanctuary, the company already released its own statement that said MAMA preferred to work with the Sanctuary board, but would consider proceeding with the possible offer even if it isn’t recommended for acceptance by Sanctuary’s board.

MAMA, which manages Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs, has claimed that its all-share bid has support from about 40 percent of Sanctuary investors.

Earlier this year, Sanctuary went through a refinancing to reduce its debt from £162 million to £32 million.

In the six months to March 31, turnover was marginally down (from £67.7 million to £65.6 million) and the adjusted pre-tax loss was £26.9 million.

– John Gammon