Meanwhile, Back In The Netherlands

While Live Nation and AEG are hogging headlines by either making acquisitions or arguing amongst themselves, Joop van den Ende’s Stage Entertainment has re-shaped its ticketing business and opened its first French venue.

The re-organisation of Stage’s ticketing operations involves consolidating all its activities – Ticket Online Germany, Poland and Austria; TopTicketLine Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Russia and the Belgian ticketing organization – and putting Bart van Schriek in charge.

Although Stage’s various ticketing divisions, divided as they’ve been, didn’t have the business profile of a company like CTS Eventim, their combined euro 320 million plus annual revenues put them collectively second to the German outfit as the biggest European-based supplier. Eventim will likely turn over about 30 percent more.

The company believes the re-shuffle will "further strengthen Stage Entertainment’s position in the highly competitive ticketing and live entertainment markets." Putting van Schriek, the group’s chief financial officer, in charge suggests the Dutch-based outfit is serious about it.

While Stage hasn’t made the sort of European acquisitions CTS or Ticketmaster have, although it did buy Austria Ticket in 2005, it’s believed to have provided both with some stiff competition.

All three were believed to be looking at Swiss company Ticketcorner AG at the end of 2005, although The Kudelski Group – the company’s Lausanne-based owners – ended up cutting a deal with Capvis Equity Partners and the company’s principal directors. Kudelski hung on to 28 percent.

The deal valued the company at about 117 million Swiss Francs (then US$91 million), which was said to be much higher than CTS, Stage or Ticketmaster were prepared to go.

It was indication that Stage, which has content including the European productions for musicals and theatre shows, including "Cats," "Mamma Mia," "Phantom Of The Opera," "Les Misérables," "Barnum" and "Holiday On Ice," won’t be prepared to let the big two carve up the European market between them.

Stage’s venues business, which comprises about 30 theatres mainly in Holland and Germany, has added the Théâtre Mogador in Paris to the portfolio.

The company has refurbished the venue, added what amounts to an art gallery in the foyer and opened in time to stage this autumn’s stage production of "The Lion King."