CTS May Be Eyeing Piletilevi

CTS Eventim’s expansion into the Baltic states appears to be such an obvious move that the German-based ticketing giant isn’t bothering to deny it.

“All we can say right now is that the acquisition in Finland does indeed give us an excellent launching pad for future expansion into the Baltics,” said Rainer Appel, Eventim’s vice president for legal and business affairs.

Last month Eventim bought a 70 percent stake in Lippupiste Oy, the second-biggest ticket company in Finland, for euro 5 million ($6.8 million). It will buy the remaining 30 percent in 2012.

The Tampere-based firm, which set up in 2002, sold more than 3 million tickets in 2007.

The market leader is the Helsinki-based Lippupalvelu, which is owned by Ticketmaster and sells about 4.5 million tickets per year.

The obvious target in the Baltics is Piletilevi, which is based in Tallinn and has a longstanding partnership with Lippupiste.
It’s owned by Baltic Ticket Holding, which also owns Bilesuserviss in Latvia. BTH is opening up shop in Vilnius, Lithuania, in November, which will give it a platform in all three states.

“CTS may be looking at the Baltics but we’ve had no contact from them,” said Piletilevi general manager Jaanus Beilmann, who stresses that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are very different countries with very different markets.

In Estonia, which has a population of about 1.3 million, his company has 130 outlets including petrol stations and supermarkets but does 25 percent of its business through its Web site.

In Latvia, which has a population of 2.3 million, Bilesuserviss has more than 200 outlets.

At the beginning of the year, Eventim set up a worldwide ticketing deal with Live Nation, which already has a foothold in the Baltics. Thomas Johansson from Live Nation Sweden and Risto Juvonen from the Finnish office have co-promoted several shows in the region, using Tallinn-based Baltic Development Group as the local promoter. BDG is one of BTH’s main customers.

The region and Lithuania in particular is also developing new arenas. Venue operator Seven Entertainment has just opened a 5,656-capacity arena in Panevezys and the Klaipeda city authority is looking for a company to run the 5,486-capacity arena it intends to start building in 2009.

Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania, will have a new 14,500-capacity arena ready for opening in 2010.