UPDATE: 3pm, March 6, 2019
The ever-jovial Michael Gudinski has released a statement regarding reports he is to sell his Mushroom Group to LA-based AEG:
“Be assured that rumours that I’m selling Mushroom Group are absolutely incorrect,” he said. “And the fact that anyone thinks I would sell Mushroom Group has me thinking I should book the rumourmongers for a Frontier Comedy tour because it’s so laughable.”
While it’s all attributed ‘industry insiders’ and ‘sources’ right now, the sale of one Australia’s biggest promoter giants is apparently on the cards. It’s just not clear which.
US industry trade publication Hits Daily Double – which is more often right than it is wrong – has reason to believe Mushroom Group is up for sale, with global giant AEG looking to make the purchase.
The publication credits “insiders close to the deal” who say the L.A.-based Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) is offering US$75 million for The Mushroom Group.
This would include its around 20 subsidiary companies, including its promoter arm Frontier Touring, indie labels I OH YOU and Liberation Records, and its booking agencies The Harbour Agency and Premier Artists.
TIO reported on AEG’s impending push into Australia last November. Sources (there’s that word again) told us the U.S. concert and festivals giant is setting-out a strategic play which could shake-up the Australian touring market.
The article was inspired by AEG’s move to tap Frontier Touring’s touring director, Michael Harrison for the position as senior vice president AEG global touring, based in L.A.
Lars Brandle wrote at the time: “That scenario serves both parties well, with AEG supplying Frontier Touring with an array of tours for Australia and New Zealand.”
It wouldn’t be the most unsurprising move from Michael Gudinski’s independent music powerhouse. Mushroom’s rock ‘n’ roll spirit has kept it at the top of its game since its inception in 1972. But when Live Nation Entertainment entered the market in 2010, its global muscle made bidding wars that little bit harder for local players.
Another industry rumour making the rounds is that fellow promoter Chugg Entertainment is also part of the discussions for AEG’s Australian launch. One whisper in particular outlines a conversation where both Chugg and Mushroom are looking to sell their businesses jointly to AEG.
It’s already dipped a heavy toe into the market. Its AEG Ogden joint venture manages and operates Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena, the Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Perth Arena, Brisbane Entertainment Centre and the Queensland capital’s Suncorp Stadium, among others.
The rumour mill is indeed spinning, but watch this space.