Rock & More: The Fall Of The Balkan Empire

Apart from having Rock & More coming under the scrutiny of Vienna authorities regarding the old and new versions of the company, Heimo Hanserl and Wolfgang Klinger are also being hit by the fall of their Balkan empire.

Three former local partners in Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria are unlikely to be working with the Vienna-based company in the near future, as one says he’s owed too much money from previous deals, another is being investigated by the Zagreb authorities and the third is bankrupt and out of the business.

Maxa Catovic from Belgrade-based Komuna, who has worked with Klinger on a couple of Rolling Stones shows that both had to be canceled, said the company owes him so much money that he won’t be doing business with it again.

Sofia-based Krum Manoilov, who headed the very similarly named Pick & More, either was or would have been the Vienna company’s partner in shows such as David Copperfield, Apocalyptica, Sting, and 50 Cent.

Manoilov’s company has disappeared, apparently amid accusations that he was owed money by Klinger, although Rock & More’s new Bulgarian partners say it was Pick & More’s downfall that left Klinger and Hanserl with some big financial problems.

David Lieberberg, brother of top German promoter Marek, is now heading Rock & More’s Eastern Division and – occasionally working with Martin Stoyanov of Joker Media Ltd. – will be the future partner.

In Zagreb, however, Marijan Crnaric is caught up in an investigation into Sasa Britvic – former head of the publicly funded Zagreb Concert Management (Koncertna Direkcija -KDZ) – and his handling of last year’s canceled Rolling Stones show.

Zagreb city attorney Zeljka Pokupec called in the cops last summer, after Sandra Veljkovic – a journalist with the daily national Vecernji List – claimed she’d had sight of KDZ’s 2004 audit and said it shows it’s been misusing public money.

The paper ran a front-page story saying Britvic’s company had claimed public money to pay the wages of non-existent employees, showed cash payments to artists that never performed in the country and put in bogus claims for travelling expenses.

It has since emerged that Britvic, who was relieved of his KDZ post a month ago, had also taken out a US$2.2 million bank credit that wasn’t authorised by the city government – it would need to vote on an amount of that size.

This led to Pero Kovacevic MP asking the city parliament to investigate what’s going on and calling for the resignation of city culture minister Dusko Ljustina, who allegedly gave his personal go-ahead for Britvic to raise the credit.

Kovacevic also asked the Croatian media to send all their old cuttings about the Stones show and any new information they gather to him personally, which he’s now collated and filed with the Zagreb public prosecutor’s office.

Britvic’s handling of the Stones show attracted a lot of media attention. When reporters asked him to explain the involvement of Crnaric as local promoter, Britvic said it was because the act had requested it – although Crnaric was the subject of a string of allegations saying he cheats fans by not paying refunds on canceled shows, including an earlier Rolling Stones show.

John Giddings from London’s Solo agency, which produces the European legs of Stones tours, dismissed Britvic’s statement as "bullshit" and quickly had Crnaric taken off the job.

Despite making several efforts, Pollstar wasn’t ever able to contact Britvic.

At press time there was no statement from Ljustina on whether he intends to resign, but the Zagreb parliament has just sent in Davor Zagar to manage the KDZ on a temporary basis and investigate the financial paper trails.

Of the US$ 2.2 million credit that Britvic set up with Privredna Banka Zagreb, euro 180,000 was drawn to pay promotional expenses and a further euro 100,000 as a binder for a July 9, 2007, concert (to replace the 2006 show) due to Befra (Finanz und Beratungskontor), a company registered in Lichtenstein.

Zagar’s trying to claw back that payment and says if the Stones decide to play the territories that Keith Richards’ accident forced them to pull in 2006, then Zagreb is still very keen to do a show.

But he said that this time he’d prefer to deal with Giddings, the Stones’ European agent, and that neither Crnaric nor Klinger will be working with the Zagreb government’s concert management company again.