Festival Battle To Legal Battle

What began as a festival battle for DEAG chief Peter Schwenkow has quickly become a legal battle as he’s taking action against the Nürburgring race track venue.

After taking the slot at the Formula One track that was the longtime home of Rock Am Ring, Schwenkow’s suing the firm that owns and runs the site. He says Capricorn, the private investors group that a year ago bought the F1 circuit out of bankruptcy for what was then $136 million, is in breach of contract.

“The ring operator has failed to fulfill its contractual obligations as a co-organiser and its payment obligations for the rock festival,” DEAG said in a statement. The Berlin-based promoter, which is organizing what was to be called “The Ring – Green Hell Rock” with former colleague Ossy Hoppe and UK promoter Stuart Galbraith – has so far reportedly shelled out $3.8 million in artists’ advances and other costs.

“It is indeed true that we have a dispute about the cost,” a Capricorn spokesman told Boerse. The legal scrap will be toe to toe with Viktor Charitonin, the Russian pharmaceutical entrepreneur who in October became Capricorn’s majority shareholder. Chaitonin is reportedly unhappy with the speed at which tickets were selling for Green Hell, with Die Welt putting the figure at 16,000. He is blaming DEAG.

The May 29-31 lineup includes MetallicaKISSMuseFaith No MoreJudas PriestLimp Bizkit, and Incubus.

“We are convinced that such a festival at the Nürburgring would work in the future with the right organizer,” Capricorn spokesman Pietro Nuvoloni told the paper. As Schwenkow moved the festival to the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen and renamed it Rock Im Revier, DEAG pointed out to its shareholders that its latest financial results had taken the “precautionary measure” of making provision for things going wrong at the Nürburgring.

It also said it had extended its insurance cover on the event to euro 7.5 million ($8.15 million), when Chaitonin bought his majority holding in Capricorn. Although last year DEAG increased its operating profit from euro 8.7 million to euro 9 million, the fuss over the Nürburgring saw its share price fall 10 percent to euro 6.55. It recovered half of that fall before the markets closed for Easter.

Fellow German promoter Marek Lieberberg, who moved his Rock Am Ring 20 or so miles down the road to the former military airfield at Mendig, says he doesn’t wish to comment on the situation between DEAG and Capricorn. He did say his twinned Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park festivals (June 5-7), which have Foo FightersMarilyn Manson, and Bad Religion, are close to selling out.