AEG Confirms Colorline Deal

Anschutz Entertainment Group has confirmed the completion of its purchase of Hamburg’s 15,000-capacity Colorline Arena from Finnish news kiosk chain Rautakirja Group. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

The deal will come as no surprise to the German live music industry: Apart from the weeks of rumours preceding the October 25 announcement, AEG has been closely involved with sports at Colorline since it opened in November 2002.

Even before the grand opening, a venue press release had a photo of AEG managing director Detlef Kornett and Jokerit HC Arena Holding chief Harry Harkimo going for the puck on the venue’s ice hockey rink.

The American company and the Finnish-based Jokerit, which developed the Hamburg venue along the lines of its own Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, joined forces to buy the Munich Barons ice hockey team. The team then decamped to Colorline and was renamed Hamburg Freezers.

Rautakirja, which is part of the SanomaWSOY Group and built its business on wholesale press distribution, kiosk trade, bookstores, movie theatres and multipurpose arenas, had held a 34.4 percent stake in Jokerit’s Hamburg business since September 2001. By February 2005 it bought out the rest.

"The decision to sell our multipurpose arena in Hamburg is in line with our long-term strategy to focus on the distribution and retail sales of press products as well as specialised retail trade," Rautakirja president and chief exec Erkki Järvinen said.

Acquiring the Colorline shows AEG’s determination to build a venue chain across Europe.

Albeit a couple of years behind schedule, it expects to open the O2 World in Berlin next fall.

Ironically, Jokerit had been its main rival to build an arena in the capital city.

Harkimo managed to get his 14,000-capacity Siemensstadt project off the ground at Spandau (Berlin) before Anschutz could begin a similar arena across the city at Friedrichshain., but then he scrapped the idea because he felt the city couldn’t support two new venues of that size.

"With the takeover of the Colorline Arena, AEG Group is expanding its commitment as an enterprise and increasing its strategic importance in the German market for live entertainment," Kornett said in a statement confirming the deal’s completion.

"We are planning to make sizeable investments and develop the arena further so that it lives up to the state-of-the-art demands of the market."