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DEAG welcomes 20,000+ for Potsdam palace shows

Despite ongoing restrictions on large events in Germany, promoter DEAG was able to bring together more than 20,000 people in Potsdam on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 August for two evenings of French-themed live entertainment.

After a hiatus in 2020, Potsdamer Schlössernacht (Potsdam Palace Night) returned to the Sanssouci Palace Park with the theme Les Rendez-vous au Park Sanssouci, with guests including the actors Benjamin Sadler, Esther Schweins, Benno Fürmann, Dietmar Bär, Andrea Sawatzki and Christian Berkel, and the theatre companies Quidams and Sol’Air.

Other entertainment at the sold-out events included illuminations, projections, tightrope walking and a fire and light show.

Potsdamer Schlössernacht 2021 was able to go ahead as a result of a “comprehensive hygiene concept”, says organiser DEAG, which included halving the normal capacity of the event.

“More than 20,000 visitors found their way to this year’s Potsdam Palace Night despite difficult conditions and were rewarded”

Around 9,000 people attended the open-air show on Friday, while 12,500 were present on Saturday.

“More than 20,000 visitors found their way to this year’s Potsdam Palace Night despite difficult conditions and were rewarded: with, at last, fun walks and good humour, the most beautiful entertainment, and the best pleasure with culinary highlights,” comments DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow. “We would like to sincerely thank everyone who was there and look forward to all those who want to come next year.”

Mike Schubert, the mayor of Potsdam, adds: “I am very happy about the success of this year’s Palace Night. The event has shown two aspects: a mature and responsible security concept on the part of the organisers, and responsible behaviour on the part of the visitors also, make large events possible. Our city needs formats like the Palace Night, for guests and residents alike.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 recovery centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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European promoters reveal plans for Covid policies

Live Nation, AEG Europe, CTS Eventim and DEAG/Kilimanjaro have outlined how they plan to approach Covid-19 entry requirements for live entertainment in European markets.

Earlier this week, Live Nation Entertainment announced that, from 4 October, it will require all artists, crew and fans to produce proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test to gain entry to its US venues and festivals.

Days later, Live Nation representatives confirmed that it plans to do the same in the UK – which is fully reopen – as well as Canada, which last week opened to fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents.

As for other countries, IQ now understands that Live Nation will take a market-by-market approach based on local governments’ requirements –many of which already utilise Covid-status certification for entrance to public spaces.

IQ now understands that Live Nation will take a market-by-market approach based on local governments’ requirements

It was also announced last week that AEG Presents, AEG’s concert promotion division, will require all fans in the US to be vaccinated from 1 October.

Additionally, Anschutz Entertainment Group – including Goldenvoice/Coachella, ticket agency AXS and AEG’s owned sports teams – will mandate that all employees working at their US offices have had the vaccine, with “limited exceptions as required by law”.

However, AEG Europe “will be adopting an approach that is appropriate to the prevailing conditions and local health department and/or legislative requirements in each market,” COO, John Langford, reveals to IQ.

The live entertainment behemoth has already implemented a number of measures at its landmark venue, the O2 (cap. 21,000) in London.

In line with the advice and guidance from UK and local government, ticket holders are required to present an NHS Covid Pass on entry to the arena in order to gain access.

AEG Europe “will be adopting an approach that is appropriate to legislative requirements in each market”

This week saw the London arena back at full capacity for the first time since March 2020, welcoming 34,000 people to two shows by Gorillaz.

The show was promoted by UK promoter Kilimanjaro Live, which is backed by Berlin-based DEAG.

Peter Schwenkow, CEO of DEAG, says the UK is “by far the best country to promote shows at the moment,” but that the company has to handle different restrictions in all its territories, which includes Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

“It very much depends on local authorities: For example, Bavaria is different to Berlin and Zurich different to Geneva,” he explains.

“Denmark is partly open, the rest of Scandinavia is currently still very complicated. Ireland continues to be problematic but the UK is by far the best country to promote shows at the moment; Kilimanjaro Live did two sold-out shows at the O2 last week with the Gorillaz. Generally, we do prefer the 3G rule: vaccinated, recovered or tested. Anybody else will not be allowed to work, stay backstage or even enter the venue,” he says.

“Generally, [DEAG] does prefer the 3G rule: vaccinated, recovered or tested”

European ticketing and promoting powerhouse CTS Eventim are taking a similar bespoke approach to Covid-19 safety measures. “In Germany, if concerts are allowed to take place, our promoters will develop individual concepts in close coordination with the local authorities in the various regions and the corresponding local regulations for the protection against Corona,” a representative tells IQ.

The ticketing services and live entertainment giant has interests in 21 countries including major markets such as Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK.

The Eventim Group includes concert, tour, and festival promoter companies for events like Rock am Ring, Rock im Park, Hurricane, Southside, and Lucca Summer.

And CTS Eventim’s venue portfolio includes the Lanxess Arena (cap. 18,000) in Cologne, the KB Hallen (4,500) in Copenhagen, the Waldbühne (22,290) in Berlin and the Eventim Apollo (2,500) in London.

 


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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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DEAG’s Kilimanjaro to acquire promoter UK Live

DEAG has acquired a majority stake in UK Live, the independent Buckinghamshire-based promoter behind Let’s Rock, the popular festivals of ’80s  and ‘retro’ music held in 14 cities.

Berlin-based DEAG announced last month it had raised more than €6 million to fund acquisitions in “key markets” around the world. Through UK subsidiary Kilimanjaro Live, the company has taken a 90% stake in UK Live, which has also organised headline shows by the likes of Craig David, Kim Wilde, Rick Astley and the Kaiser Chiefs, as well as festivals PennFest and Sunset Sessions (Exeter and Norwich).

In addition to organising shows, UK Live specialises in artist booking, stage construction and event technology. The company’s founders and managing directors Nick Billinghurst and Matt Smith, will stay on board as minority shareholders and will continue to manage the company in the long term.

“In view of the positive development with regard to the vaccination situation in our core markets, we expect to see our business activities increasingly return to normal in the coming months. We are already setting the course for a continuation of our successful business development and can further expand our strong market position in the UK with the acquisition of UK Live,” says Detlef Kornett, member of the executive board of DEAG (Deutsche Entertainment AG).

Other DEAG businesses in the UK include the Flying Music Company, Belladrum Festival, MyTicket UK and Gigantic Tickets, as well as Singular Artists in the neighbouring Republic of Ireland.

“We are very excited about our future collaboration with DEAG and look forward to driving our growth journey together”

“UK Live has its own productions and independently covers the complete infrastructure from stage set-up to technology. By focusing on the domestic market, UK Live’s business activities are hardly affected by the Brexit,” continues Kornett. “The partnership with UK Live offers us potential, especially for our ticketing and live entertainment business. For example, we will offer tickets for UK Live events for sale exclusively through Gigantic.com.”

“The acquisition of UK Live adds attractive events and concerts to our events portfolio,” says Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live. “Nick Billinghurst and Matt Smith have many years of experience in the live entertainment industry and have shaped UK Live from its early days with Let’s Rock The Moor with 1,000 visitors to a successful company with over a dozen festivals and countless concerts within only a few years. Today, the four series of events, Let’s Rock, PennFest, Friday Night Live Norwich and Sunday Sessions, alone attract over 200,000 visitors annually.”

Billinghurst adds: “We are very excited about our future collaboration with DEAG and look forward to driving our growth journey together. With DEAG, we have a strong partner on our side, with whom we are ideally positioned for the post-corona era.

“Together we will soon be presenting our audience with top-class concerts and events again. I am sure that both sides will benefit from our merger in the long term.”

 


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Germany’s DEAG raises €6m for acquisitions

Berlin-based live entertainment group DEAG has raised more than €6 million to fund future acquisitions in “key markets”, it announced today (5 May).

The company recently delisted from the stock market after 23 years as a listed company, with CEO Peter Schwenkow telling IQ that DEAG (Deutsche Entertainment AG) could raise more funds as a private company than on the financial markets.

To raise the new funding – €6.06m in total – DEAG will increase its share capital by 1,962,597 new shares, or approximately 10%, with the support of its largest individual shareholder, Apeiron Investment Group, which subscribed to the capital increase through its ‘Live Opportunities Fund’.

The proceeds, according to a statement from the company, will “be used to take advantage of attractive market opportunities to acquire companies that are identified at short notice. DEAG is thus continuing to pursue its strategy of growth in key markets and extending its value chain.”

Promoter/ticket agency DEAG owns businesses in Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

 


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Benedikt Alder named director, biz dev, for DEAG

DEAG has appointed experienced German music industry figure Benedikt Alder as divisional director for legal affairs and business development.

Alder, who joins from Universal Music, succeeds Daniel Rothammer, who stepped down from the role after 21 years as of yesterday (31 March).

Alder’s experience includes spells at EuroArts Music International (Berlin), the Firm Inc. (Los Angeles), IMG Artists (London), BMG Rights Management (Berlin) and Fidelo Artists (London). From 2014 to 2018, he also worked for DEAG as manager of business and legal affairs and project manager for several domestic acts.

In his new role, he will report directly to DEAG chairman and CEO Peter Schwenkow.

“I am delighted to be returning to DEAG, because I feel very connected to the team and the company”

“Benedikt Alder combines, like hardly anyone else, industry know-how with legal expertise and, in addition to his responsibility for legal affairs, will make a significant contribution to the further development and diversification of the company,” comments Schwenkow. “I would like to thank Daniel Rothammer for more than 20 intensive years during which he was the legal anchor of the company.”

“I am delighted to be returning to DEAG, because I feel very connected to the team and the company. Accordingly, when the call came from Prof. Peter Schwenkow, I didn’t have to think twice,” adds Alder (picture). “DEAG is always innovative and, above all, creative when it comes to adapting to changing conditions and I am therefore delighted to be involved in shaping the exciting projects and developments that lie ahead.

“I would like to thank Prof. Peter Schwenkow for the trust he has placed in me. I have felt connected to Daniel for years and of course wish him all the best for the future.”

 


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Schwenkow predicts open-air shows this summer

Concert promoters should be able to stage outdoor events, as well as smaller indoor shows, this summer, DEAG’s Peter Schwenkow has predicted.

“When we have around 80% of people who have been vaccinated, by June or July, we should be able to hold smaller and open-air events,” Schwenkow, CEO of the German promoter, told yesterday’s Tagesspiegel.

Schwenkow also said that organisers should be free to restrict entry to events to those who have already had the coronavirus vaccine, or who can produce a negative Covid-19 test at the door, reports the DPA news agency.

“Why not let 2,000 people into the [Berlin] Philharmonie when they have all been tested and vaccinated? Organisationally and technically, this is not a problem,” he continued. “The question is whether you can find an official who would approve it.”

“Why not let 2,000 people into the Berlin Philharmonie when they have all been tested and vaccinated?”

Speaking to IQ last month, Schwenkow said he sees 2021 as a year of largely domestic touring and smaller shows, with a full return to normality in summer 2022 through a combination of vaccines and rapid testing.

“It’s a miracle that they could develop the vaccine in under 12 months,” he said, “but the miracle is there. By end of the year, everybody who wants to be will be vaccinated.

“We have been wishing since March that someone could help us out of this, and now they can. Of course, speedy testing and vaccinations are easier for 5,000 people than 80,000, so while the former I think will be possible by winter [2021] we’ll have to wait until summer 2022 to have the full 80,000 people at our Nature One festival, for example.”

He echoed this prediction in the Tagesspiegel interview, saying it would be at least April or May 2022 before international artists – especially Americans – will be touring Germany, presenting a unique opportunity for “local entertainers”.

 


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DEAG to acquire major stake in Danish promoter CSB

Berlin-based Deutsche Entertainment (DEAG) is increasing its presence in Scandinavia with a 75% stake in Danish promoter and international producer CSB Island Entertainment, via its wholly owned subsidiary DEAG Classics.

CSB, founded in 1994, organises and hosts around 300 events a year and has brought a slate of internationally renowned artists to Scandinavia including Kiss, James Blunt, Sir Elton John and Kylie Minogue.

The company also holds worldwide rights to productions and shows including The Show – A Tribute to Abba, which has now been performed in around 50 countries worldwide, Queen Machine Symphonic and Disco Tango Eurovision Show.

CSB company founder and CEO Carsten Svoldgaard and COO Kenneth Svoldgaard will remain shareholders and will continue to manage the company in the long term with their team, which will remain completely with the company.

“DEAG has been working closely and successfully with CSB for many years, especially in the UK and Scandinavia but also in the classics and jazz sector,” says Detlef Kornett, member of the executive board of DEAG.

“We see growth opportunities for our ticketing business and expect to see synergy effects in our international business”

“The investment in CSB is the next logical step of our trustful cooperation. Scandinavia is an economically strong market in Europe and is considered to be particularly digitally minded. We see good growth opportunities for our ticketing business in particular and expect to see synergy effects in our international business.”

The acquisition shortly comes after the German live entertainment company accepted a takeover offer from the company’s largest single shareholder, Apeiron Investment Group, and its Malta-based subsidiary Musai Capital.

The deal, which will see DEAG delist from Frankfurt’s Xetra stock exchange after 23 years as a public company, would provide the company with greater resources for future acquisitions, CEO Peter Schwenkow told IQ.

“We have huge financial support from our investors for future acquisitions, and this support is much, much bigger than any money we could collect from the capital market,” Schwenkow explains. “So, on the one hand it gives us the freedom to do the right decisions, and on the other it gives us deep pockets.”

The Berlin-based promoter and ticket agency has interests in Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

 


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DEAG agrees takeover offer, plans to delist stock

Deutsche Entertainment Group AG (DEAG) has announced plans to take its stock private as part of a takeover bid valuing the German live entertainment company at just over €60 million.

The Berlin-based promoter and ticket agency, which has interests in Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the Republic of Ireland, intends to delist from Frankfurt’s Xetra stock exchange after 23 years as a public company.

Plans for the delisting come after DEAG’s management board, led by CEO Peter Schwenkow, accepted a takeover offer from the company’s largest single shareholder, Apeiron Investment Group, and its Malta-based subsidiary Musai Capital.

According to a market notice issued by DEAG this morning (11 January), all members of the management team will stay in place following the acquisition, and all existing contracts with employees, suppliers and artists remain in “full force and effect”.

The parties have agreed on a purchase price of €3.07 per share. According to DEAG’s most recent financial report, it had 19,625,976 shares outstanding, giving the company a value of €60,251,746.32.

After the successful closing of the takeover, Apeiron and Musai Capital will, along with existing shareholders (including US-based investor Mike Novogratz, whose Galaxy Group Investments holds around 14% of DEAG’s stock) exercise joint control over the company.

“We are very proud we could convince our existing shareholders to make another big investment”

Around 47% of shareholders have said they will not sell their shares to Apeiron/Musai at the €3.07 and will remain as stockholders post-takeover.

Schwenkow tells IQ the blueprint for DEAG’s delisting is German publishing house Axel Springer, which similarly announced plans to go private earlier this year.

According to Schwenkow, the advantages of taking the company private are two-fold: first, in the words of Axel Springer, it allows a company to focus on making strategic decisions “while relieving the mere focus on short-term financial targets”; the second, says Schwenkow, is that a private DEAG can raise far more funds than the public company could on the financial markets.

“We have huge financial support from our investors for future acquisitions, and this support is much, much bigger than any money we could collect from the capital market,” he explains. “So, on the one hand it gives us the freedom to do the right decisions, and on the other it gives us deep pockets.”

By increasing their investment in DEAG – the delisting is costing Apeiron and co around €30m to arrange, according Schwenkow – the shareholders are demonstrating their faith in the future of both DEAG and live entertainment more generally, says the CEO.

“We are very proud we could convince our existing shareholders to make another big investment in the company to arrange the delisting,” Schwenkow continues. “Like with Sony Music and BMG investing in live,” in UK concert firm Senbla and German promoter Undercover, respectively, the DEAG delisting demonstrates investor confidence in live music, he adds: “It’s a very good sign that American and German billionaires are increasing their investment in DEAG.”

“We have huge financial support from our investors for future acquisitions”

Similarly, it’s a good deal for the investors, who increase their stake while live entertainment is in the doldrums, adds Schwenkow: “If you can buy a controlling stake in DEAG at €3.07 [a share] and you expect this business to increase in the upcoming years, it’s a good investment, as one day, when live entertainment returns, the share price will be €10 or more.”

How soon that day will come is different depending on who you ask – for Schwenkow, 2021 will be a year of largely domestic touring and smaller shows, with a full return to normality in summer 2022 through a combination of vaccines and rapid testing.

“It’s a miracle that they could develop the vaccine in under 12 months,” he says, “but the miracle is there. By end of the year, everybody who wants to be will be vaccinated.

“We have been wishing since March that someone could help us out of this, and now they can. Of course, speedy testing and vaccinations are easier for 5,000 people than 80,000, so while the former I think will be possible by winter [2021] we’ll have to wait until summer 2022 to have the full 80,000 people at our Nature One festival, for example.”

Echoing the likes of Marc Geiger and Moritz Schwenkow, DEAG’s CTO, Schwenkow predicts a boom time for live entertainment when the threat of Covid-19 has passed, comparing the pent-up demand for rock shows, family entertainment, Christmas events and more to champagne in a bottle.

As for summer 2022, “That’s only a year and a few months ahead,” he adds. “And if you are a long-term strategic investor, that’s nothing.”

 


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DEAG turns a profit in first nine months of 2020

Germany’s Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) made money in the first nine months of 2020, its latest financial results reveal, turning a profit of €300,000 in quarters one to three, even against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Berlin-based company, which trades on the Frankfurt stock exchange, turned over €39 million in January–September (compared to €123.1m in the same period last year), resulting in earnings before interest, tax depreciation, and amortisation (ebitda) of €0.3m.

In Q3 (July to September) alone, ebitda was €0.6m, with DEAG attributing the success to new event formats, significant cost cutting (the firm has almost halved its spending this year) and €10m worth of insurance compensation. (DEAG revealed in March it is “fully covered” for coronavirus-related disruption.)

For the full year 2020, DEAG expects to at least break even, according CEO Peter Schwenkow, who says the company already has over €100m in sales for 2021, along with liquidity of around €50m.

“In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are comfortable with our results for the first nine months of 2020,” comments Schwenkow.

“We are comfortable with our results for the first nine months of 2020”

“Although large parts of our visible operational business are currently suspended, the DEAG team is working behind the scenes to continue our growth course successfully as the pandemic ebbs away and finally comes to an end.

“The breakthrough in the development of vaccines in November brings a tailwind for our entire industry. We have significantly reduced our cost base and are taking advantage of available promotion and support programmes in our core markets. We are currently already planning for the opening of the market and a new start in live entertainment.

“In addition to our core markets of Germany, Switzerland and the UK, we are also present in Ireland through our joint venture Singular Artists. We are seeking contact with artists and management, preparing the expansion of our successful formats and developing new offers.”

DEAG says its ticketing business, comprising MyTicket and the UK’s Gigantic, is becoming “increasingly important” for the company’s bottom line, adding that MyTicket now includes additionally functionality to ensure social distancing at events.

The publishing of DEAG’s latest financial results follows that of German rival CTS Eventim, which revealed last week it has lost just under €18m in 2020 to date.

 


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