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DEAG to acquire majority stake in Lit.Cologne

DEAG Classics, a division of Germany’s DEAG (Deutsche Entertainment AG), has announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Lit.Cologne, one of Europe’s largest literary festivals.

With the acquisition of 66.6% of Lit.Cologne GmbH, DEAG is “significantly expanding its activities in the field of ‘literatainment’, bringing the most exciting names in culture and entertainment to audiences in Europe and beyond”, according to a statement from the Berlin-based live entertainment group company.

Following the acquisition, Lit.Cologne co-founder Rainer Osnowski will stay on as a shareholder and managing director and continue to run the company with his team. “Both partners expect synergy effects from the cooperation in the development of new formats, as well as in the acquisition of new venues and in the ticketing business,” adds DEAG, whose owned ticket agencies include MyTicket (DE, AT, UK) and Gigantic (UK).

Founded in Cologne in 2000, Lit.Cologne now welcomes more than 100,000 visitors and annually, and has in recent years launched a number of other events, including Phil.Cologne, a philosophy festival, and Lit.Ruhr, a sister festival in the Ruhr region. In 2021, Lit.cologne was held as a digital festival for the first time, with 54 online events.

“This alliance offers the mutual know-how in the live sector and the passion for first-class live events”

In a joint statement, DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow and DEAG Classics board member Jacqueline Zich say: “We are very pleased with our partnership with Rainer Osnowski and his team, who have built up Europe’s largest literature festival and also know how to inspire their audiences with new formats such as Lit.Ruhr and Phil.Cologne.

“Being able to contribute to the further development of formats, and support the long-term direction of the festivals with our live expertise and our European network, fills us with great joy.”

“The partnership with DEAG Classics in this form, which leaves the festival as such untouched in terms of content and structure, is certainly something of a rarity these days,” adds Osnowski. “On the one hand, this partnership is a further step towards securing the long-term future of the festival alongside the great commitment of our main sponsors and partners. On the other hand, this alliance offers the mutual know-how in the live sector and the passion for first-class live events many opportunities for further joint development.

“I am very pleased about this and look forward to working together.”

Earlier this year, DEAG raised another €6 million to fund acquisitions, and says it recently enlisted the services of a “renowned American investment bank” to identify new opportunities outside its “core markets of Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark”.

 


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Arena boss sets sights on 2m visitors goal

Staff at Lanxess Arena in Cologne have set their sights on breaking the 2million visitors barrier, after reporting the best half-year results in the venue’s history.

In the first six months of 2017, 1,448,823 visitors attended 135 events at the 18,000-capacity arena, including concerts by Bruno Mars, Phil Collins, Ed Sheeran and Kings of Leon. It ranked fourth in Pollstar’s global arena ticket sales, below London’s The O2, Glasgow’s SECC and Manchester Arena.

“I am proud of what our team has successfully achieved in these incredibly intense time,” says CEO Stefan Löcher.

“Now we want to crack the barrier of two million visitors. That would be a great success and a great way to end a fantastic year.”

“An estimated 10% of all tourist traffic in Cologne is caused solely by the Lanxess arena”

As a direct and indirect employer in the region, the arena contributes an economic value of €600million to Cologne and the region, according to a press release.

Visitor surveys show that 20% percent of people attending events at the venue spend at least one night in Cologne hotels. Half that number spend two to three nights in the cathedral city. That makes at least 600,000 hotel nights in Cologne for the year 2017.

“An estimated 10% of tourist traffic in Cologne is caused solely by the Lanxess arena,” notes Josef Sommer, managing director of the local tourist board.

The last record year, 2010, saw 1,247,736 guests attend 118 events between January-June.

Forthcoming events at Lanxess Arena in the second half of 2017 include Metallica, Lady GaGa, Shakira, James Blunt and Yello.

Peter Rieger passes aged 63

Peter Rieger, the founder of Cologne-based promoter Peter Rieger Konzertagentur (PRK), has passed away aged 63.

The news was announced today by CTS Eventim – since 2000 the majority stakeholder in PRK – which paid tribute to a man who has provided “thousands of people wonderful memories” and “given numerous artists their breakthrough”.

“We were deeply moved by the death of our longtime business partner and colleague, Peter Rieger,” reads a statement. “We are mourning for a giant of the live entertainment industry.

“The death of Peter Rieger does not just mean a big loss for the industry, but also a farewell to a long-time companion. Our sincere condolences to his family and relatives.”

“We are mourning for a giant of the live entertainment industry”

PRK, founded in 1983, has been led by managing director Klaus-Peter Matziol since 2015, when Rieger retired. A joint statement from the company’s staff and management described the late promoter, who passed on 29 January, as a “passionate and visionary leader” who “guided our company over many decades, creating unforgettable moments in music performance”.

Solo Agency managing director John Giddings says that despite stepping down from his MD role at PRK, Rieger was “still very much hands-on” with the business – and that the two were co-promoting Phil Collins’ shows in Germany later this year.

Giddings, who had known Rieger since the late 1980s, says his friend died “far too young”. “I’m in shock,” he tells IQ. “He was good for a laugh and generous beyond belief, and helped me out a lot when it was starting out.”

“He was good for a laugh and generous beyond belief”

“Peter was a great character who will be dearly missed throughout the industry,” comments Rob Hallett of Robomagic. “We worked a lot together in the ’80s – my fondest memory probably involves him having the first car phone that I had ever seen. We were in Berlin with Kajagoogoo, and while driving past the Brandenburg gate I telephoned my Mum from the car. She was blown away!”

“When I was an agent, he delighted in calling me ‘Robbery Hallett’, he adds. “I can hear him laughing at his own joke now…”

Danny Gillen, the long-serving road manager for Phil Collins, says Rieger “wasn’t just a promoter: he was my friend, as he was to all touring bands and crew. He was a man who loved his job and loved his life. Peter was funny, generous and a real credit to the music business – but most of all he was a loyal man. Loyalty is a thing you can’t buy – you’ve either got it or you haven’t – Peter had it in spades.”

“Peter was a great character who will be dearly missed throughout the industry”

Agent and International Live Music Conference (ILMC) founder Martin Hopewell describes Rieger as “a significant figure in the development of the European live music scene, one of the all-time great German promoters and a highly valued founder member of the ILMC. He was also an elegant, intelligent man who I’m very grateful to have known. Losing people of Peter’s experience and quality diminishes the live industry in a way that can never really be compensated for.”

Marillion drummer Ian Mosley, for whom Reiger promoted several tours in the early 1980s, says he has “very, very fond memories of Peter”.

Fish, the band’s former frontman, adds: “I was so sorry to hear the news of Peter’s passing. He was a great friend and advisor to me in the ’80s and instrumental in breaking Marillion in Germany. His contribution to the music business over the years on so many levels has been immense. A fantastic character with a sense of humour that could light up any venue.

“My sincere condolences to his family. He will be missed by so many that he touched during his time with us.”

“His contribution to the music business over the years on so many levels has been immense”

Mike + The Mechanics singer Tim Howar calls Rieger “a brilliant man and legend”. On behalf of the band, he says: “We will miss you.”

“This has been a sad and dismal week,” says manager and former agent Ed Bicknell. “I’ve lost three dear pals: John Wetton, of King Crimson, Asia and UK, Deke Leonard, of Man, and now Peter. I did many shows with him back in the day when I was an agent, and he worked with Dire Straits and other acts of mine many times.

“He was a total professional, a pleasure to deal with and funny – definitely funny. Which is what every promoter needs: a sense of humour. This year has got off to a gloomy start already.”

“He was a total professional, a pleasure to deal with and funny – which is what every promoter needs: a sense of humour”

Born on 12 April 1953, Rieger promoted some of Germany’s most memorable shows, including high-profile dates by David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Genesis, U2, George Michael, Eagles and Whitney Houston, and Roger Waters’s The Wall – Live in Berlin.

Prior to founding PRK, Rieger worked for Lippmann + Rau before moving to Mama Concerts, where he promoted his first show by an international act: Level 42.

He was named promoter of the year (promoters’ promoter) at ILMC 16 in 2004.

 

This article will be updated with tributes from those who knew and worked with Peter Rieger as we receive them. If you would like to contribute, please email jon@iq-mag.net.

 


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