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ATG takes over 1,100-seat Theatre Royal in Sydney

Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire. Photo: Getty Images Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire. Photo: Getty Images
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Ambassador Theatre Group has acquired its first theatre in Australia as part of the organisation’s global expansion.

The move is the latest step in ATG’s plans to create an “international distribution network” for theatre.

ATG has agreed terms to lease and manage the Theatre Royal in Sydney, which becomes the 40th to join ATG’s portfolio of venues, which includes theatres across the UK as well as Broadway’s Lyric Theatre.

The 1,100-seat venue will undergo a major refurbishment under ATG’s management in a bid to safeguard the future of what ATG described as “one of the city’s iconic venues”.

First built in 1827, the Theatre Royal was demolished in the 1970s and rebuilt nearby as part of business, retail and culture hub the MLC Centre.

ATG co-chief executive Howard Panter said he would be working with the MLC co-owners to “improve [the venue’s] facilities and create a premium experience for theatre patrons”.

“We plan to showcase the very best of theatre from Australia and the rest of the world, placing the MLC Centre and the Theatre Royal firmly in the centre of Sydney’s theatrical life,” he said.

Carmel Hourigan, chief investment office for the GPT Group, which co-owns the MLC Centre, said the owners had chosen to work with ATG because of its “strong track record” of delivering premium productions.

“The MLC Centre will become home to a new world class theatre, which supports our vision for the precinct as a unique and exciting place, where people gather for both business and leisure,” she added.

A statement from ATG said it was continuing “active discussions” with other Australian venues as well as developing plans for additional theatres in the country.

Tim McFarlane, chief executive of ATG Asia Pacific, said the acquisition heralded “a new dawn” for its venue management operations in the area, adding that it was a region “that will play a major part in our international expansion plan”.

ATG has previously confirmed it is working on projects and acquisitions in Korea, Japan, Singapore and China.

Earlier this year ATG became a majority shareholder in BB Group, one of the largest producers and promoters of live entertainment across Europe.

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