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Schmitt replaces Missonnier as Rock en Seine director

Sarah Schmitt, the long-time assistant to Rock en Seine co-founder François Missonnier, has replaced Missonnier as festival director, the festival’s new owner has announced, ahead of a rumoured takeover of the event by AEG.

Rock en Seine – one of France’s largest music festivals – was acquired from founders Missonnier, Christophe Davy and Salomon Hazot in April by investment banker Matthieu Pigasse, who says he plans to turn his LNEI (Les Nouvelles Éditions indépendantes) holding company into a “leader in the production of premium content”. Rock en Seine forms part of a new live music division, LNEI Live, comprising the Rock en Seine, inRocKs and Nuits Zébrées festivals.

Pigasse buys Rock en Seine, launches live outfit

The next month, Pigasse announced a “very advanced partnership” between LNEI and a “recognised specialist in the programming of major festivals”, named by Libération as AEG. He declined, however, to further elaborate on the nature of the relationship, including whether any money had changed hands.

Unlike rival Live Nation, AEG otherwise lacks a festival presence in France, although it does operate the 17,000-cap. AccorHotels Arena in Paris.

In a statement provided to AFP, LNEI says Missionnier (pictured) will now “dedicate himself to other projects, including Europavox”, a festival in Auvergne he founded in 2006.

A total of 110,000 attended the 15th Rock en Seine, held in late August, matching the festival’s strong showing in 2016, although both figures are down slightly on the 120,000 people who bought tickets to Rock en Seine 2015 (held before the attack on the Bataclan).

 


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Pigasse buys Rock en Seine, launches live outfit

Investment banker Matthieu Pigasse has bought Rock en Seine, one of France’s biggest music festivals, from its founders, François Missonnier, Christophe Davy and Salomon Hazot.

Pigasse, profiled by the The Wall Street Journal as the “rock star of finance”, already has a personal interest in rival festival Eurockéennes de Belfort, of which he is chair, and – through the LNEI (Les Nouvelles Éditions indépendantes) holding company – the inRocKs festivals and the Nuits Zébrées concert series by Radio Nova.

Pigasse (pictured) owns both Les Inrockuptibles and Radio Nova, along with stakes in the Le Monde newspaper, The Huffington Post France and, through his Mediawan investment vehicle, pay-TV giant Groupe AB.

Speaking to AFP, Pigasse says Rock en Seine will form the basis of a new live music division, LNEI Live, comprising Rock en Seine, inRocKs and Nuits Zébrées.

While Missonnier has been confirmed as the head of LNEI Live, Davy’s role in the new set-up is unclear. (IQ has contacted him for comment.) Hazot, meanwhile, is now president of Live Nation France, which has its own plans for the French festival market, launching in the past few years local editions of Download and Lollapalooza.

“We want to become a major player in France and in Europe, with other acquisitions to come”

The 2016 edition of Rock en Seine, established in 2003, was attended by 110,000 people amid a strong showing for the French festival sector as a whole.

Pigasse tells AFP part of the appeal of buying Rock en Seine is that it’s a “favourite” of his. “I would not buy [comedy radio station] Rire et Chansons or Radio Nostalgie,” he says.

“But the acquisition of the festival is also at the heart of the strategy of LNEI, which wants to become a leader in the production of premium content.”

He adds that the acquisition of Rock en Seine is only the beginning of LNEI’s festival plans, hinting at the building of a European festival portfolio to rival that of the likes of Live Nation, DEAG, CTS Eventim or, closer to home, Miala, which is led by Arnaud Meersseman – formerly at Nous Productions with Hazot – and backed by €2.6bn French investment vehicle Fimalac.

“We want to become a major player in France and in Europe, with other acquisitions to come,” he continues. “There are a lot of festivals in eastern and northern Europe…”

Commenting on the deal, Missonnier echoes Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings, who recently sold to Live Nation, by saying Rock en Seine needed to be part of a larger entity in order to stay competitive. “After 15 years our project is doing very well, but we have reached the limits of what we could achieve alone,” he comments. “By integrating with LNEI, Rock en Seine will benefit from increased resources.”

 


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