Ticketmaster Confirms Biletix Deal

Ticketmaster has ended some of the speculation over the Turkish ticketing market by confirming its purchase of the country’s biggest operator.

The deal to buy Istanbul-based Biletix, which was first reported at Pollstaronline October 18th, gives the U.S. company control of more than 75 percent of the market and at least 90 percent of the contemporary live music market.

Biletix sells tickets for more than 2,000 live events per year via its online ticketing system, and its clients include 400 venues, promoters and sports teams throughout the country.

Two weeks ago, neither Ticketmaster corporate communications director Bonnie Poindexter nor European business development director Paul LaFontaine would comment on “speculation” regarding the deal. But on November 1st – the day after it was inked – LaFontaine said it’s a fantastic deal because of the market’s size and speed of expansion and that its strategic position between southern Europe and northern Asia will make it “a hub for future activities.”

Neither Ticketmaster nor Biletix is saying how much money was involved, although Istanbul rumours have it around US$18 million.

LaFontaine described Biletix, which was originally set up by Dave Dorner and Ali Abhary, as the trusted name in ticketing throughout Turkey. With Ticketmaster’s relationships, technology and reputation, he said he believes the company will continue to grow. Dorner and Abhary will stay on as general managers.

Although the country is far from being on every act’s touring itinerary and still arguably a decade away from full membership in the European Union, it’s expected to have an 80 million-plus population and be the biggest member state by the time it joins.

Ticketmaster was able to keep the deal relatively quiet as most of the Istanbul music business has focused on TicketTurk, the country’s second-largest ticketer, which is involved in a dispute over fees with two U.S. rock acts.

TicketTurk is believed to be the subject of attention from major German ticketer CTS Eventim and Turkey’s huge Dogan media group, which has operations in newspaper, magazine and book publishing, television and radio broadcasting, and printing and new media.

The media group has such a grip on the Turkish press that the U.K.’s Financial Times once said the support of Dogan is “considered essential by most politicians eyeing an election.”

These takeover stories are coming against the background of TicketTurk being taken to court by Charmenko, the Istanbul-based agency that booked Garbage and Megadeth for the city’s annual rock festival.

Charmenko is claiming that TicketTurk has made a written undertaking to pay off the balance of the fees owed by Rock Istanbul promoter Boray Dundar, although the ticket company’s lawyers at Eckmecki & Karakus are disputing this.

They sent a letter to Pollstar October 26th that said there’s been no such undertaking that would be considered binding under Turkish law, while Charmenko’s lawyers at Topdemir & Inandioglu insist that a letter promising payment – which was signed by TicketTurk managing director Gulseren Onanc – is “irrevocably and unconditionally” a pledge to make the payment on Dundar’s behalf.

The Megadeth case opened at Istanbul’s Asliye Ticaret Mahkemesi (commercial court) October 11th but was adjourned to December 6th. The Garbage hearing was set for November 3rd in the same court.

– John Gammon