TicketTurk Case May Not Deter Potential Buyers

There are only days to go before TicketTurk and Megadeth go to court to argue over unpaid fees, but the October 11th hearing doesn’t seem to have deterred the ticketing company’s potential suitors.

It’s long been rumored that Sadettin Saran’s huge media group is among those who are eyeing up the company, which is second to Billetix in the Turkish market, but German ticketing giant CTS Eventim could also be taking a look.

The Istanbul music industry grapevine has even gone as far as saying the Bremen-based company has already bought 30 percent of TicketTurk, something that CTS chairman and chief exec Klaus-Peter Schulenberg categorically denies.

He wouldn’t comment on whether CTS had considered a bid. Nor would he say if he was aware of TicketTurk’s wrangles with a couple of international artists.

He did say he was aware of Saran Group, but that’s hardly surprising as its chief is a high-profile Turkish media mogul, apart from being on the board of Fenerbahce soccer club and a controversial shareholder in Germany’s BoRussia Dortmund.

Neither Saran, his brother and company vice president Tannan Saran nor general manager Salen Osta were available to comment on any potential acquisitions.

Three weeks after the Megadeth hearing, TicketTurk is due back in Istanbul’s Asliye Ticaret Mahkemesi (commercial court) to face a similar case brought on behalf of Garbage.

Both cases relate back to last year’s Rock Istanbul Festival, which drained promoters Boray Dundar and Fil Yapim of so much cash that they couldn’t or wouldn’t settle with the acts.

Nick Hobbs of the city’s Charmenko agency, which booked the bands for Rock Istanbul 2005, is bringing both actions. His company is claiming that TicketTurk managing director Gulseren Onanc has made a written undertaking to pay the balance of both bands’ fees and is now trying to renege on it.

Charmenko already has distraining orders on the two promoters, although Dundar and former Fil Yapim director Murat Dogan are still putting on shows through a new company they’ve set up called Rock Istanbul.org

Onanc told Pollstar she hasn’t made any undertakings to pay off the bands but, since being asked to comment on the documents in Charmenko’s possession, she’s failed to respond to further telephone calls and e-mails.

Charmenko’s lawyers at Topdemir & Inandioglu have said, “TicketTurk has not denied their signature on the commitment either when they responded to our notice sent through Notary public or before the court.”

Onanc is admitting to guaranteeing the fee for the July Guns N’ Roses show, claiming that she has faith that Dundar will pay it back. The 12,000-capacity Kuruçesme Arena was only half full.

Joe Rambock from Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur has confirmed he’s received the fee in full. The show was one of a European string arranged by the German promoter.

Although the story that CTS has already bought one-third of TicketTurk is at odds with the German company’s usual acquisition strategy, the Istanbul ticketing company – with its business driven by Internet ticketing – is the sort of outfit that Schulenberg might target in his bid to corral the Balkan markets right down the coast.

The downside is that its core business is in the theatre sector, with most of the live contemporary music tickets getting sold through Billetix.

The only exceptions were Dundar and Fil Yapim, although Onanc won’t say if that’s why she underwrote the fee for the Guns N’ Roses show. She also wouldn’t say if, when guaranteeing the deal to MLK, she was aware that the German company is one of the five promoters in which CTS holds a 50 percent interest.

TicketTurk is co-owned by Tickets.com, the U.S. NASDAQ-listed ticketer, and CRM Solutions, the telecommunications and software giant.

– John Gammon