AEG Wembley Deal OK’d

UK regulators have provisionally cleared AEG’s deal to manage Wembley Arena. At this stage, clearance is only provisional because the Competition Commission will be awaiting feedback from third parties with an interest in the outcome.

AEG, which has major UK assets including The O2 London, Hammersmith Apollo and the contract for concerts in Hyde Park, took over the contract to manage Wembley late last year.

However, the Wembley deal was referred to the CC over fears that AEG’s growing dominance of London venues could lead to higher ticket prices.

The referral came from in the middle of January when the Office Of Fair Trading confirmed it was looking into the consequences of AEG taking over the famous London venue.

The OFT expressed concern that AEG would be controlling three of the four largest indoor venues in the UK’s capital city. Now, the CC has concluded that AEG’s takeover of the venue, which was run by Live Nation until late last year, “will not result in substantial lessening of competition.”

The CC also investigated if AEG would have incentive to channel more sales through its ticketing platform, AXS. It found that AXS has a small part of the ticketing market and any increase in AXS market share is unlikely to have a significant impact on competition between ticketing agents.

Meanwhile, AEG and German ticketing giant CTS Eventim, which last year paid HMV £32 million for Hammersmith Apollo, are spending several millions on restoring the venue to its former Art Deco glory.

The refurbishment, at The Apollo, which began life in 1932 as the Gaumont Palace, one of Britain’s biggest cinemas, will reveal original features hidden under layers of paint and provide new seating, bars and ventilation.

The work will restore foyer floor mosaic panels currently covered in carpet and remove black paint from the windows so that light will flood the circle bar and the foyer.

Two marble staircases concealed beneath the extended stage will be uncovered.

The venue is being repainted in green, mauve and black – the original colour scheme.

AEG chief operating officer Colin Chapple told the London Evening Standard that the city “deserved more” from one of its top venues. “It’s listed because it’s so well preserved. All the features are there, all the original cornices, a lot of original glass,” he said.