Major Irish promoter Denis Desmond has taken a slice of the country’s Electric Picnic Festival in a move that’s confounded the country’s live music industry gossip.
Melvin Benn’s Festival Republic, which is owned by Desmond’s investment company and Live Nation, has bought the Electric Picnic share from Aiken Promotions, Desmond’s main rival in the Irish promoting business.
For Benn it’s a second non-U.K. acquisition in a matter of weeks as Festival Republic recently bought the name of Norway’s bankrupt Hove Festival from the official receiver.
The move came as something of a surprise as the local business grapevine had Aiken buying part of Electric Picnic chief John Reynolds’ stake so the latter could raise the money to stave off a euro 432,741 ($675,335) lawsuit from IMRO, the Irish royalties collection agency.
The annual event in Stradbally owed performance royalties going back nearly five years, while Reynolds was challenging the amounts that IMRO was charging him.
However, Aiken – who wasn’t available for comment – is thought to have owned only 10 percent of the event, which would mean Festival Republic would also have needed to buy quite a tranche of Reynolds’ shares to have any sort of control.
The move on Electric Picnic started when Benn approached Desmond with the idea of making an offer for Aiken’s piece.
“I have been a friend of John Reynolds for a long, long time and have been a fan of the Electric Picnic Festival since its inception; it is Ireland’s version of Glastonbury as far as I am concerned and has been a great inspiration to Latitude too,” Benn said in a statement.
Reynolds said he has worked with Benn on previous projects and looked forward to the new collaboration.