Eventim Faces See Tickets Fight

While CTS Eventim is the newspapers’ favourite to buy the UK’s second-biggest ticket company, there may be private equity firms ready to give it a run for its money.

Eventim’s said to be expecting The Ambassador Theatre Group, backed by private equity firm Exponent, to be a rival bidder for See Tickets, but it’s also concerned there may be other private investors ready to put more money on the table.

Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, the German company’s chairman and chief exec, is known to have had his eye on See Tickets since he was slow to move on it in 2008, when Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group was on the verge of selling the company to Joop van den Ende’s Stage Entertainment.

He’s also got a ready-made chief exec in the shape of Nick Blackburn, who joined Eventim after quitting as See Tickets chairman and chief exec in September.

He left See Tickets because he didn’t like the way his Dutch bosses were running the company so maybe he’s also able to identify some of its downsides.

The rub could be that private bidders lacking Blackburn’s insider knowledge may be ready to put in a higher bid.

“He knows where the bodies are buried,” a Live Nation-Ticketmaster senior exec told Pollstar, indicating Eventim’s bid may not be at the high end of the £100 million to £120 million range that See Tickets is expected to fetch.

Anschutz Entertainment Group is another reportedly interested in See Tickets, but the latest word is that Fred Rosen – the former Ticketmaster chief known as “the godfather of ticketing” in the U.S. – may be working in cahoots with one of the private equity firms in the frame.

Rosen’s already working on Outbox Enterprises, a U.S. venture that helps venues cut out the middle man by using their own Web sites to sell tickets, merchandise and services directly.

The result of the bidding war for See Tickets is likely to come before the end of the month, coinciding with the opening of Eventim’s action against Live Nation in the International Court Of Arbitration.

Eventim’s submission to the ICC includes a claim that the merger has resulted in “various breaches” of Live Nation’s obligations under the 10-year deal it made with the German company in 2008.

Live Nation’s counterclaim says Eventim failed to deliver a ticket platform that meets the minimum contractual standards.