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Competitors accuse Italian promoters of foul play (updated)

Update (20 May): Arzenton and Zed have responded to Friday’s story, telling IQ the company will be only too “pleased to show the Italian public prosecutor” all documents relating to the allegations against F&P and TicketOne. Zed Entertainment’s full statement is below.

Having learnt only from TicketOne, Di and Gi, Friends & Partners, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti’s joint press release issued on May 15 that CTS Eventim and its partners have brought action against Dr Valeria Arzenton, it is fitting to highlight that Dr Valeria Arzenton will be pleased to show the Italian public prosecutor all the documents her statements to the Italian press are based on.

These documents are evidence of the serious and dangerous happenings denounced by Dr. Arzenton and others to the press.

As you can infer from the AGCOM document n. 12/2019, available here since March 25 2019, the prosecuting companies’ behaviour and management are still being looked into by the Italian Competition Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato) as part of the abuse of dominant position investigation opened by the authority itself against CTS Eventim and its partners.

Dr Valeria Arzenton and Zed will firmly continue to go public and denounce all the behaviours damaging their reputation and companies, free competition and market and the audiences.


CTS Eventim-controlled promoters Friends and Partners (F&P), Vivo Concerti, Vertigo and Di and Gi, and ticketing company TicketOne, are taking legal action following claims by competitors that F&P chief executive Fernandino Salzano traded unfairly, made public in a series of reports by TV channel Striscia la Notizia.

The action comes after an investigation by Italian antitrust authority AGCM into alleged abuse of market position by the Eventim companies. The regulator’s precautionary phase resulted in a positive outcome for the companies.

F&P and the other Eventim companies under investigation have refuted all claims made by rivals and have now announced they are taking immediate legal action.

In the first of a series of televised reports, Zed Entertainment co-founder Valeria Arzenton anonymously claimed that Friends & Partners had hijacked a co-promotion of singer Alessandra Amoroso between the two companies. Zed alleges F&P advertised tickets to the show – exclusively through TicketOne – without their consent, and withheld outstanding monies owed as bargaining chips “to negotiate future conditions”.

“There are many Italian colleagues who are in the same situation and who are afraid to speak out

A second report featured concert promoter Roberto Iacobino, who previously worked with Salzano. “Only in Italy is there a company like F&P that does exactly what it wants,” he said, querying why authorities had not investigated market abuses by both F&P and TicketOne.

In a follow up interview with Striscia la Notizia, Arzenton – having revealed her identity – spoke of a “violent” response by Friends & Partners. “We are experiencing a total embargo,” she told reporter Max Laudadio. The day after the initial broadcast, all F&P dates in Zed venues were cancelled.

“I think it’s a violent show of force, but it won’t stop me,” says Arzenton. “There are many Italian colleagues who are in the same situation and who are afraid to speak out.”

F&P, TicketOne, D’Alessandro e Galli, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti say the news reports provide “an incorrect, misleading and defamatory version of the commercial activities carried out by TicketOne and by promoters Friends & Partners, Vivo Concerti, Vertigo, Di & Gi.”

“What is stated in the report provides an incorrect, misleading and defamatory version of commercial activities”

The companies state that the AGCM investigation has been initiated by “two operators in the sector with the aim of obtaining undue competitive advantages to the detriment of TicketOne and the Promoter mentioned above [F&P]”.

The four promoters also stress that, while forming part of the same group, each operates independently of the other.

The companies say that the “harmful, deeply misrepresented and distorted statements” have forced them “to act in penal proceeding against Mrs Arzenton”.

Eventim acquired a 60% stake in Friends and Partners in 2017, and has majority stakes in fellow Italian promoters Vertigo, D’Alessandro e Galli and Vivo Concerti. The German live entertainment giant also controls the market leading ticketing company TicketOne.

This is the second time in as many years that reports by Italian news outlets have resulted in an investigation into major live industry players. A 2017 television interview with Live Nation Italy president Roberto De Luca led to a two-year investigation into promoters conspiring with Viagogo. The executives were later acquitted of all charges.


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CTS acquires majority stake in Friends and Partners

CTS Eventim is to acquire a 60% stake in Ferdinando Salzano’s Friends and Partners, further strengthening its position in the Italian market.

The German live entertainment giant has had a presence in Italy since 2007, when it bought a share of ticketing market leader TicketOne, and in September acquired Italian promoter Vertigo.

Friends and Partners, formed in 2001 as F&P Group, represents more than 40 Italian artists, organising tours by stars including Il Volo, Claudio Baglioni, Ligabue, Nek and Laura Pausini, formerly in partnership with Warner Music. The company also produces concert films and music TV formats for all major Italian TV stations.

By joining CTS Eventim, Friends and Partners will be able to take advantage of Eventim’s global reach, says CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg.

“There are many artists that have long been addressing an international audience and who plan their live performances without paying heed to national borders,” comments Schulenberg. “Our aim is to offer them Europe-wide touring opportunities and efficient ticketing services under the CTS Eventim umbrella. For that reason, we are constantly reviewing options for expanding our portfolio.

“I am looking forward to the various opportunities the partnership with a global player like CTS Eventim will provide us”

“I am delighted that with this transaction we further strengthen our market position in Italy.”

Friends and Partners founder Salzano, who will continue to manage the company from its offices in Milan, adds: “I am looking forward very much to the various opportunities that the partnership with a global player like CTS Eventim will provide us and I thank Klaus-Peter Schulenberg and his team for the confidence they place in us. Our joint aim is to project the Friends & Partners success story into the future.

“At the same time, my colleagues and I will remain true to our mission, which is to offer artists, managers and producers a home that helps them realise their creative ambitions. I also extend my thanks at this point to my companions at Warner Music, who have passionately supported and advised my team and myself for almost a decade. I am certain that our paths will cross on various projects in the future.”


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