Blackburn To Head Eventim’s UK Ops

Nick Blackburn has been tapped to head up German ticketing giant CTS Eventim’s UK operation.

The news comes just three months after Blackburn returned to the ticketing business by joining the board of Ingresso Group, a new venture launched with funding from Oakfield Capital Partners.

The Bremen-based company issued a statement May 13 announcing the former See Tickets chairman and chief exec will take up his new role in June, prompting speculation that Eventim may be lining up another tilt at his former employer.

Blackburn left See Tickets in September, apparently unhappy with the direction the company was heading after it changed hands twice in a year.

It was sold to Joop van den Ende’s Dutch-based Stage Entertainment in January 2008. Ten months later Stage picked up about £250 million by selling 60 percent of the business to Dutch banker ING Group.

Within four months of Blackburn’s departure, The Sunday Times reported the UK leg of See Tickets, which had become Britain’s second-largest ticket seller behind Ticketmaster under Blackburn’s stewardship, had brought in advisers to find a buyer prepared to stump up something in the region of £100 million ($162.2 million).

Two months before Blackburn left See Tickets, Eventim had paid $183.5 million for the German division of See Tickets.

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office subsequently launched a retrospective inquiry into that deal to check if it infringed the country’s merger control regulations, but announced it had dropped it at the end of March.

Eventim investor relations director Marco Haeckermann told Pollstar he was aware of “rumours in the market” regarding See Tickets and said he didn’t want to comment on speculation that his company would be a likely buyer for the UK business.

Eventim chief Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, who owns more than half the company, is believed to have previously shown an interest in buying See Tickets.

It was in 2008, when Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Really Useful Group was on the point of selling the ticket company to Joop van den Ende’s Stage Entertainment.

Schulenberg was apparently too late in showing his interest and the deal with the Dutch company was all but inked. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed but, shortly after, Lloyd-Webber reportedly paid himself a £38 million dividend.

“Nick Blackburn has been a driving force in ticketing in the UK for more than two decades, and we are happy he has accepted our offer to become chairman of our UK operations,” Schulenberg said of the new appointment.

He said it underpins Eventim’s claim to be one of the leading ticketing services providers in the UK.

Blackburn, who was a director at Ticketmaster for 13 years, said Eventim has always been at the forefront of technological advance and that he believes the company’s ticketing system has an edge over the competition in terms of attractive features and impeccable performance.

His task will be to develop Eventim’s business in the UK and Ireland, which is recovering from losing its Live Nation business as a result of the promotion giant’s merger with Ticketmaster.

Eventim has filed a claim against LN alleging it breached an agreement to license the German ticketer’s platform when it merged with Ticketmaster.