“We bought more than the Aiken shareholding and have a majority holding in the ownership of the festival now,” revealed Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn. This indicates that his company, which is co-owned by Irish promoter Denis Desmond and Live Nation, must have purchased about half of the stock owned by major shareholder John Reynolds.
Benn wouldn’t comment on the details of the deal, saying it’s up to Aiken and Reynolds to divide the undisclosed sum his company paid them.
The rumour about Aiken increasing his estimated 10 percent stake, which the Aiken Promotions chief strenuously denied, is believed to have come about because festival partner Reynolds needed to settle a euro 432,741-plus ($675,335) High Court lawsuit brought by IMRO, which collects writers’ royalties.
The court heard in June how the dispute between IMRO and POD refers to Electric Picnics going back to 2004. Brian O’Moore SC, acting on behalf of the collection agency, said Reynolds failed to reply to correspondence, made a range of excuses or promised to deal with the matter tomorrow.
“Tomorrow never comes,” he continued, and said efforts to make direct contact with the promoter had been thwarted because IMRO was always told that he was busy, out of the country or, on one occasion, had “a heavy cold.”
The collection agency sought euro 180,000 for the three Electric Picnic events of 2004, 2005 and 2006. At the time it received only two post-dated checks for a total of about euro 80,000, which IMRO sent back.
It also said POD had taken until February 2008 to supply the returns for Garden Party 2006 and 2007, Love Box 2007 and Electric Picnic 2007.
IMRO reckoned those events totaled up to another euro 246,844 but said none has been paid.
It accused POD of being in “persistent breach” of the license requirements since Electric Picnic in 2004. Reynolds was forced to release a statement saying the dispute with IMRO didn’t mean the 2008 event was in jeopardy.
POD settled the action and by paying the backlog of royalties at the beginning of the year, a matter of weeks before Festival Republic announced it had bought a share of Electric Picnic.
Reynolds and Aiken weren’t available for comment at press time.