Eventim Plans A Shopping Trip

With pre-tax earnings of nearly $50 million in the first six months of the year and a share price that’s nearly doubled since the end of March, CTS Eventim chief Klaus-Peter Schulenberg is planning a shopping trip.

Since the spring, Eventim’s share price has risen from euro 17.36 on the Frankfurt exchange to close at euro 31.83 Sept. 16, although Schulenberg let it be known he was looking for acquisitions as soon as the half-year figures were announced.

He’s been quoted in Business Week saying he wants to acquire two companies that are market leaders in their European home countries, which immediately sparked speculation over which outfits he’s targeting.

One for the shortlist could be Estonia’s Piletilevi. Eventim legal and business affairs vice president Rainer Appel already hinted at Baltic expansion, right after acquiring a 70 percent stake in Finland’s Lippupiste Oy a year ago.

At the moment, Appel isn’t saying, which may mean negotiations are coming to a close and Schulenburg’s close to fulfilling his forecast that at least one of the deals would be wrapped by the end of 2009.

Eventim’s due to snaffle the rest of Lippupiste Oy, which is Finland’s second-biggest behind the Ticketmaster-owned Lippupalvelu Oy, sometime during 2012.

“We want to continue to grow in Europe and that includes acquisitions. In five years we want to have grown beyond Europe’s borders,” Schulenberg told Business Week, suggesting this year’s acquisitions are closer to home.

He also said the firm forecasts that annual sales will exceed 100 million tickets within the next three years.

Looking at where else Schulenberg could be going in the old Eastern Bloc region is tricky as Ticketpro, arguably the No. 1 provider in Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Croatia, seems an unlikely target.

Company chief Serge Grimaux, whose network of Ticketpro-branded satellites also includes Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Greece, is quietly growing his own network by selling his brand, technology, reputation and expertise to a group of entrepreneurs in a particular country.

“I’m not about to start selling or buying companies,” he told Pollstar, shortly after setting up the latest Ticketpro business in Minsk, Belarus. He did sell the promoting company he co-owned with Robert Porket to Clear Channel (now Live Nation) in 2004, and maybe Ticketmaster may one day prove to be a more likely suitor.

Eventim is already a competitor in many of Ticketpro’s territories and has offices in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Further west, Eventim has Oeticket in Vienna, which is already the Austrian market leader and has most of its live entertainment business. It may be Schulenberg is looking at a larger market much closer to home, such as France.

Ticketnet is one of the market leaders and has shareholders including Horode, Auchain, and Virgin Megastores, but the country has a few privately owned and similar-sized ticket companies in the country.

France is also a huge market but none of the international ticket sellers have established a foothold.