Rumours Shown The Exit

Live Nation and Exit Festival have scoffed at a newspaper story saying the U.S.-based multinational is rumoured to have bid euro 15 million for the award-winning event, although it’s clear that something is going on behind the scenes in Serbia.

The June 18 edition of Press attributed the story to "well-informed sources," although one of the paper’s journalists told Pollstar "it could be another stunt" in the drawn-out battle over the festival’s ownership.

That dispute is between the three co-founders, with Bojan Boskovic and Ivan Milivojev on one side and Dusan Kovacevic on the other. But at times it seems to be as much about the way the festival is run and its future direction as it is about ownership.

"I’ve never met the Exit people or spoken to them about the festival or anything else. I don’t know who could be making this up," said Live Nation International chief exec Alan Ridgeway, although he said he was obviously aware of the event and its rapidly growing reputation.

Boskovic and Milivojev both say the Press report is inaccurate, they haven’t received any offers and the festival isn’t for sale.

"I heard about it on the news and it’s flattering to hear such a company as Live Nation is showing an interest, because it shows our work to be of value – even if the reports are entirely speculative," Boskovic said.

He said the organisers believe in keeping an alternative and independent festival, and that no offer had been received and no offer could be accepted.

Speculating that Live Nation is the mystery bidder is easy because Tim Dowdall, who runs the company’s Budapest office, works with the Exit team on Serbia’s Tuborg Green Fest. And last year they also co-promoted Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Live Nation is also one of the very few live music businesses that could find the sort of money necessary.

Kovacevic was apparently unaware of the mystery offer until Press editor Aleksandar Jovanovic questioned him about it, although he has since released a press statement.

"Exit festival is a national brand of society-wide significance and every move related to this project must be made most attentively and in accordance with the interests of the whole nation," it begins. "The festival has enormous influence on the development of cultural identity of the youth in Serbia and the whole region, and that must not be for sale."