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SMG on the market again

SMG, the world’s largest venue operator, has been put up for sale for the second time in two years.

The Pennsylvania-based company – whose giant venue portfolio includes some 500 arenas, stadia, theatres, amphitheatres and convention centres across North America, Europe and, most recently, China – could potentially sell for US$750m, according to SportsBusiness Journal, with investment firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Texas Pacific Group among those believed to be interested.

SMG is currently owned by Maryland-based Northlane Capital Partners, which in January acquired the assets of American Capital Equity III, a $1bn private-equity fund that includes SMG. American Capital, and the Capital III fund, were acquired by Ares Capital for $3.4bn last June.

Investment firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Texas Pacific Group are among the companies believed to be interested

One rival operation that won’t be buying SMG is Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff’s Oak View Group, which last month moved into venue management with the buy-out of Pinnacle Venue Services.

According to Leiweke, his company is barred from submitting a proposal: “We were told that we couldn’t bid,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s because of our purchase of Pinnacle or years of competing with [SMG when I was AEG CEO]. Who knows? So, we’ve stood down and are focused on growing Pinnacle. We’re proceeding with our own route.”

SMG declined to comment.


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