Live Nation buys ownership stake in Austin's C3 Presents

Dec 22, 2014
Austin Business Journal

Live Nation Entertainment has completed a long-anticipated deal to take a controlling interest in C3 Presents, the Austin-based festival promoter that produces Austin City Limits Fest and 

Lollapalooza and over 1,700 other concerts and events

The deal, which has been expected for more than a year and attracted national headlines when it was rumored to be nearly complete during this year's ACL Fest, was reportedly for a 51 

percent stake in the company. Anonymous sources at the time told the New York Times that Live Nation valued C3 at $250 million, meaning the ownership stake was for around $125 million

In a joint statement Friday announcing the deal, C3 partners Charles Attal, Charlie Walker and Charlie Jones said, "We are excited to join Live Nation and become a part of their global 

family, while continuing to grow our festivals within a culture of entrepreneurship that will empower our team to keep improving these festivals and the fan experience"

It is unclear whether the deal involved any properties C3 owns such as Emo's East concert hall on East Riverside Drive, or its fast-growing artist management company

C3's client roster includes 38 artists, with an emphasis on the electronic dance music genre such as Bassnectar, Beats Antique, Wild Cub and Shpongle. Other top-tier artists aligned with 

the company include Nas, The Strokes, The Head And The Heart, Spanish Gold and Delta Spirit

According to 2013 data compiled by the Pollstar trade magazine C3 Presents sold 2 million tickets worldwide, putting it sixth in the magazine's rankings. Live Nation took the top spot with 

32.2 million tickets sold

"They put on a significant number of shows and if you're Live Nation and you want to acquire an independent company, it'd be them," Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni said in an interview. 

"C3 is probably the biggest acquisition Live Nation could make in North America"

Bongiovanni said the speculative value put on C3 is tough to assess because it's unknown if the management division, its business with Front Gate TIckets or its real estate assets are 

involved. Another question mark is how much revenue C3 brings in from vendor deals and sponsorships at its festivals, which can run into the seven figures

"It's tough to put a value on a promoter with no major real estate holdings, even though there is value with having Zilker Park under contract for a certain number of years for ACL Fest," 

he said. "There's lots of value in the contracts and relationships a company has and its leases are worth something but it's easier to determine value when there are hard assets involved"

Live Nation (NYSE: LYV) shares have trended upward since the rumor of the deal broke in October, climbing from $22 to around $26

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