See Tickets bought by Vivendi for £86m

Michael Quinn

Global entertainment and telecoms giant Vivendi has bought See Tickets, the UK’s second largest ticketing operator, for £86 million.

The deal ends months of speculation about the future of See Tickets following the sale of its German division to European market leader CTS Eventim in July last year. It had been widely expected that CTS Eventim would also take over ownership of the UK company.

Vivendi’s purchase of See Tickets places an enterprise value of £94 million on its British operations, which represent a 20% share of the market, and comes just nine months after it acquired the leading French online ticket retailer Digitick.

In a statement, the French multi-national said: “This acquisition complements the group’s different businesses” and pointed to See Tickets’ “particularly strong positions in the theatre and live music segments”.

See Tickets was created from the merger of the Really Useful Theatres ticketing division and Nottingham-based festivals and events agency, Way Ahead Group. It was purchased by Stage Entertainment in January 2008, which sold a majority share to private equity firm Parcom Capital the same year.

See Tickets’ chief executive Rob Wilmshurst told The Stage the deal underlined Vivendi’s “clear strategic intent to build a ticketing enterprise” that offered “complementary assets” and “a lot of technology that could be useful to the UK business.

He added: “We’re the market number two by volume, and we have a clear agenda to be market number one inside a couple of years. Being part of a business with an enterprise value well over €20 billion will give clients confidence in a difficult economic environment.”

The sale delivers a significant UK footprint to Vivendi, which last year reported net income of €2.7 billion, as it continues to compete with global ticketing leader Live Nation. In 2010, See Tickets sold 10 million tickets to live entertainment, sports events and exhibitions. Its management structure is expected to be unchanged by Vivendi and the company will continue to trade under the same name.

“See Tickets is a business with strong cash flows, strong forward-looking forecasts, and a business profile that made it highly investable,” added Wilmshurst. “It’s good news and a good deal – an investment for the long term. With the resources and reach of a company like Vivendi behind us, all the signs are positive for growing the business.”

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