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ATG bolsters overseas expansion with BB Group acquisition

ATG's joint chief executives Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire
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Ambassador Theatre Group has agreed a deal with European entertainment producers BB Group to become the company’s majority shareholder.

BB Group, the parent company of BB Promotion, produces and promotes live entertainment across Europe, specialising in touring musicals and dance productions throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The move marks a step in ATG’s overseas expansion, which ATG joint chief executive Howard Panter said would support the creation of an “international distribution network” for theatre.

Panter told The Stage: “We have worked with BB for a long time. We thought it a sensible move for both parties to come together and create a bigger German and European production company. The idea is to create a proper holistic approach to international producing.”

He added: “Outside the UK and the US, Germany is arguably the biggest theatre market in the world. They have a wide range of creative styles and very much like the same sorts of musicals and dance productions as we do.”

As part of the acquisition, ATG is also working on the creation of a 1,700-seat theatre in Cologne, which will replace the city’s temporary Cologne Musical Dome, and is set to open in 2017.

Panter said the new venue would become the primary theatre for musicals in the region, capable of producing “anything from West Side Story to Wicked”.

He also said he hoped the theatre, which will be effectively owned by ATG, would become the first in a number of ATG venues in Germany and Austria, adding to the company’s current portfolio of 39 venues in Britain and on Broadway.

“We are looking at other potential venues in Germany and Austria because of the strength of the market, which makes it a tremendously exciting place to work,” Panter said.

ATG has also previously announced plans to launch venues in Australia, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In a statement announcing the move, BB Group’s chief executive Ralf Kokemuller said the company was “delighted” to be joining up with ATG, adding: “All of us at BB Group are very much looking forward to an exciting future in partnership with ATG.”

BB Group was founded in 1987 by German producer Michael Brenner, who died in 2011. His children Marius and Antonia Brenner will continue as active shareholders.

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