Giddings Resists German Invasion

John Giddings of Solo – European tour booker for acts including The Rolling Stones, Madonna, and U2 – is making it clear that he’s not happy about Wolfgang Klinger’s Austrian shows being taken over by German promoters.

"It’s about time the Germans learned to stop trying to invade other countries," he told Pollstar, reacting to stories that Vienna-based LSK – a joint venture between Dieter Semmelmann and Marek Lieberberg – would be running the rule over whatever shows Klinger has in his diary.

Klinger is caught up in a bankruptcy wrangle. Vienna authorities are about to examine the connection between the new Rock & More and an old one. He has admitted to being a "consultant" for both.

The old one appears to have changed names and gone bankrupt after Heimo Hanserl, Klinger’s partner, already started up the new one.

One of the Rock & More shows currently in question is a Genesis date scheduled for the summer, and Giddings is the band’s agent.

He’s adamant that Klinger remains his chosen promoter in Austria and the neighboring Balkan states.

That Giddings doesn’t have a good working relationship with Lieberberg is common knowledge throughout the European live music business.

The problems between them were exacerbated when the opening shows of Madonna’s 2001 European tour – German dates promoted by Lieberberg – were canceled due to "technical problems."

But if any German promoter takes over the shows, it seems it would be Semmelmann.

The situation in Vienna became even more delicate in the week leading up to Christmas, when the city’s bankruptcy court stopped the old Rock & More’s hearing and called in the state attorney to investigate the connections between Hanserl’s new company and the old bankrupt company.

Austrian business records show Rock & More Veranstaltungs Gm became MT Veranstaltungs GmbH shortly before the latter filed for bankruptcy.

The authorities are concerned that Hanserl dumped the old Rock & More and started up again in a bid to ensure the new company was debt-free.

On August 12, Hanserl officially stepped down as company chief of the old Rock & More and was replaced by Manfred Trojer.

Dr. Suzi Pariasek of Pariasek Holper, the Vienna-based official receiver dealing with the bankruptcy of "MT Veranstaltungs GmbH vormals [or formerly known as] Rock & More Veranstaltungs Gm," has already said she’ll be pursuing the new company for some of the 1.8 million euros the old one owes.

If the German promoters took over the shows, it may be that none of the box office money need pass through the new Rock & More. Dr. Pariasek and the Vienna authorities may find reason to question that.

For LSK, it looks like a complicated business to take over. Apart from Giddings’ resistance and the potential resistance from other interested parties, it’s not clear how much progress has been made.

There’s little doubt that talks have been going on behind the scenes. In the middle of December, Lieberberg told Pollstar he was aware that the Austrian company in which he and Semmelmann are partners was getting involved in Klinger’s Vienna shows. He also said his colleague would be handling the day-to-day business and he wouldn’t be getting directly involved.

Semmelmann, who has the Bayreuth-based Semmel Concerts, is known to have been planning to visit the Austrian capital for talks on December 14.

But 10 days later, there was still no decision as to whether LSK would be taking over Klinger’s shows.

During the Christmas break, it wasn’t possible to get comments from Rob Hallett of AEG (Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake) and Barrie Marshall of Marshall Arts (Lionel Richie) – the other U.K. agents that have shows booked with Klinger – for a reaction to whatever may or may not be happening in Austria. It’s not been possible to reach Klinger for comment.

At the moment, it looks to be something of a Viennese Whirl.

Klaus-Peter Schulenberg of Germany’s CTS Eventim, which has a half-share of both promoters thought to be looking at the shows as well as a stake in Austria’s main ticketing company, hasn’t responded to questions regarding his involvement.

If a CTS promoter were to take over the shows, Giddings would likely be happier for it to be Peter Rieger. The two regularly work together when the Solo chief’s acts tour Germany.

Andi Egger, Schulenberg’s Vienna-based partner in Eventim Österreich, was also Klinger’s former promoting partner in the old bankrupt Rock Production, which tanked five years ago.

Egger isn’t shedding any more light on the matter than the CTS chief is.

"We are a ticketing company and we are selling tickets for whoever is the actual promoter of a show," he explained the day before Semmelmann was due to arrive in Vienna for his meetings.

"If there should be a change of promoters, then the old promoter and the new promoter will communicate this to us together and, only after that, I could comment.

"I am not taking part in the various speculations and gossip and, as long as we do not get any other official information, the promoter is the same."

Last summer, CTS was rumoured to be looking to acquire Rock & More but both Schulenberg and Klinger played it down.