Co-founder François Missonnier has stepped down as festival director ahead of a rumoured acquisition by AEG – although the US giant's involvement remains unclear
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The 'rock star of finance', also chairman of Eurockéennes and owner of inRocKs, has big plans for the French festival market with François Missonnier-led LNEI Live
By Jon Chapple on 04 Apr 2017
Investment banker Matthieu Pigasse has bought Rock en Seine, one of France’s biggest music festivals, from its founders, François Missonnier, Christophe Davy and Salomon Hazot.
Pigasse, profiled by the The Wall Street Journal as the “rock star of finance”, already has a personal interest in rival festival Eurockéennes de Belfort, of which he is chair, and – through the LNEI (Les Nouvelles Éditions indépendantes) holding company – the inRocKs festivals and the Nuits Zébrées concert series by Radio Nova.
Pigasse (pictured) owns both Les Inrockuptibles and Radio Nova, along with stakes in the Le Monde newspaper, The Huffington Post France and, through his Mediawan investment vehicle, pay-TV giant Groupe AB.
Speaking to AFP, Pigasse says Rock en Seine will form the basis of a new live music division, LNEI Live, comprising Rock en Seine, inRocKs and Nuits Zébrées.
While Missonnier has been confirmed as the head of LNEI Live, Davy’s role in the new set-up is unclear. (IQ has contacted him for comment.) Hazot, meanwhile, is now president of Live Nation France, which has its own plans for the French festival market, launching in the past few years local editions of Download and Lollapalooza.
“We want to become a major player in France and in Europe, with other acquisitions to come”
The 2016 edition of Rock en Seine, established in 2003, was attended by 110,000 people amid a strong showing for the French festival sector as a whole.
Pigasse tells AFP part of the appeal of buying Rock en Seine is that it’s a “favourite” of his. “I would not buy [comedy radio station] Rire et Chansons or Radio Nostalgie,” he says.
“But the acquisition of the festival is also at the heart of the strategy of LNEI, which wants to become a leader in the production of premium content.”
He adds that the acquisition of Rock en Seine is only the beginning of LNEI’s festival plans, hinting at the building of a European festival portfolio to rival that of the likes of Live Nation, DEAG, CTS Eventim or, closer to home, Miala, which is led by Arnaud Meersseman – formerly at Nous Productions with Hazot – and backed by €2.6bn French investment vehicle Fimalac.
“We want to become a major player in France and in Europe, with other acquisitions to come,” he continues. “There are a lot of festivals in eastern and northern Europe…”
Commenting on the deal, Missonnier echoes Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings, who recently sold to Live Nation, by saying Rock en Seine needed to be part of a larger entity in order to stay competitive. “After 15 years our project is doing very well, but we have reached the limits of what we could achieve alone,” he comments. “By integrating with LNEI, Rock en Seine will benefit from increased resources.”
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