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Providence Equity Partners, the private-equity firm behind James Barton's Superstruct Entertainment, has added Spain's Sónar to its growing stable of European festivals
By Jon Chapple on 29 Jun 2018
Providence Equity Partners – the US investment firm which has, through Superstruct Entertainment, recently invested in Sziget and Elrow – has acquired a majority stake in Advanced Music SL, the Barcelona-based company behind the Sónar festivals.
IQ understands Providence/Superstruct completed its majority acquisition of Advanced Music in early May, just over a month before Sónar Barcelona celebrated its best year to date, welcoming 126,000 people to the city for its 25th anniversary event.
Sónar was founded in 1994 by Ricard Robles, Enric Palau and Sergi Caballero as the Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art, and has since grown to become one of Europe’s largest electronic music and tech events, and a Barcelona institution. In addition to the core festival, Sónar has also hosted events outside Spain, with recent Sónar-branded festivals including São Paulo (2015) Santiago, Chile (2015), Buenos Aires (2015), Reykjavik (2015), Bogota (2016), Hong Kong (2017) and Istanbul (2017).
Superstruct is led by CEO James Barton, the founder of Creamfields and former president of electronic music at Live Nation; CFO Paul Bedford, formerly financial director of Impresario Festivals (Boardmasters, Field Day, SW4) and currently non-executive chairman of Edition Capital; and chairman Michael Bolingbroke, formerly SVP of shows at Cirque du Soleil, COO of Manchester United and CEO of Inter Milan.
“This partnership will allow our combined platform to benefit from unparallelled synergies”
The then-unnamed company made headlines in January with its surprise acquisition of a majority stake in Hungarian festival mainstay Sziget, which was followed in February by an investment agreement with Spanish party promoter Elrow.
Providence describes itself as a “global private-equity and credit investment firm with $57bn in capital under management”. Other portfolio companies include Warner Music Group, Ambassador Theatre Group, exhibition organiser Clarion Events and college-sports marketing agency Learfield.
Both Advanced Music and Providence initially declined to comment on the investment, which was originally agreed in March. However, on 6 July – following the publication of this story – the companies confirmed the news in a press release.
“Advanced Music has a coveted track record in the live entertainment industry,” says Barton. “We have long admired their events, especially Sónar and Sónar+D, and are confident this partnership will allow our combined platform to benefit from unparallelled synergies and stronger market positioning. We look forward to working with Advanced Music’s deep bench of founding partners and directors to realise the full potential of a combined unit.”
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