Trinity College Acquires The O2

Cambridge University’s Trinity College will take a cut from AEG’s future box-office revenues, after announcing it has purchased the lease of The O2 entertainment complex at the Millennium Dome for £24 million ($38 million)

AEG, which runs the venue complex and has reportedly invested £350 million ($552 million) in it, will now pay rent to Trinity. The college will also receive rental income from the numerous food and drink outlets inside the complex.

The change of ownership doesn’t affect AEG’s lease or its operation of The O2.

“Trinity does not own the O2 but it will receive the rental-income stream from AEG. The college will receive income from the O2’s tickets sales,” a spokesman for the Greenwich Peninsula redevelopment told The Times of London.

“Trinity does not have a say in booking acts and cannot use the arena for lectures or college functions.”

Last year the venue generated £1.6 million ($2.25 million) in rental income and the figure may rise higher this year.

It made a £15.6 million ($24.6 million) operating profit in what was its first full year of opening. Despite the cancellation of Michael Jackson’s 50-night residency, AEG is bullish about doing even better this year.

“We’re now looking ahead at an even better 2009 with 175 confirmed events and an enviable autumn calendar,” AEG chief exec for Europe David Campbell told BBC News. There were 140 events in 2008.

AEG’s new landlord, which acquired the 999-year lease on the landmark building from joint venture partners Quintain and Lend Lease, was known to be interested in a deal for at least six months.

Trinity, which was founded by Henry VIII in 1546, also owns the Port of Felixstowe and the world-famous Cambridge Science Park. It’s often referred to as the U.K.’s third-biggest landowner behind The Queen and the Church Of England.

In 2008, the income from the college’s estates was about £40 million ($63 million).

It also had an independent financial endowment of about £621 million (as of 2005).

Quintain is selling £50 million ($79 million) worth of properties to strengthen its balance sheet. It has reportedly exceeded its sales target for the O2 Arena by £3 million.

The 150 acres surrounding the Greenwich venue that are being regenerated will continue to be owned and managed by Quintain and Lend Lease.