AMG Expansion Easy As ABC

Academy Music Group has expanded its U.K. venue network by paying an undisclosed sum for a majority share of ABC Glasgow.

The London-based venue operator now has three outlets in the city.

PCL and Regular Music, which spent £2 million ($2.8 million) converting the building into a two-roomed concert venue in 2005, will stay on board with a minority stake.

The art deco building on Sauchiehall Street is spread over four floors, and fits the AMG model with a 1,362-capacity hall and 350-capacity ABC 2.
AMG already owns and operates the O2 Academy Glasgow, a 2,500 capacity venue, as well as 11 other O2 Academies in major cities including London, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Oxford.

The ABC housed Scotland’s first cinema in 1896 and over the years was also known as The Ice Palace, The Hippodrome and Hengler’s Circus.
It reverted to being a cinema early in the 20th century and continued in various incarnations such as The Regal, the MGM, Cannon and eventually the ABC. It shut as a cinema in 1999.

Academy Music Group chief exec John Northcote described it as “a first-class venue with an excellent reputation” and said he was pleased the company has extended its reach in the U.K.’s fourth-largest city.

The venues operated by AMG draw more than 3.5 million music fans to more than 2,700 shows a year, according to AMG. The company is a partnership between Live Nation, Irish promoter Denis Desmond’s investment business and leading U.K. promoters SJM Concerts and Metropolis Music.

The national venue chain was previously branded by Carling but switched to O2 when the brewer pulled back from live music sponsorship, including at the Academy venues and the Reading and Leeds festivals.

The ABC will be re-branded as the O2 ABC Glasgow sometime during the summer.

“Glasgow is an important city for O2 with over 1,500 employees based there,” said Telefónica O2 U.K. head of sponsorship Mark Stevenson, promising the company will now be able to offer more live music benefits to its Glasgow-based customers and employees.

Regular Music managing director Mark Mackie said he’s pleased to stay involved with the venue and believes the group of companies and promoters investing in it will help fill its diary and secure its future.