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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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OVG launches management arm with Pinnacle buy

Oak View Group (OVG) has acquired US venue operator/consultancy Pinnacle Venue Services, adding six new management contracts and Pinnacle’s venue security/assessment operation to its growing stable of businesses.

Pinnacle, launched in 2014 by venue veterans Tom Paquette and Doug Higgons, will be rebranded OVG Facilities, marking OVG’s first foray into venue management.

OVG is a venue development and investment vehicle founded in November 2015 by former Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff and ex-AEG CEO Tim Leiweke. It comprises five other divisions: the 26-member Arena Alliance; Narrative Partners, a sponsorship/partnership operation; Prevent Advisors, its security advisory arm; OVG Consulting, whose services include venue design and seating, branding and ticketing strategy; and the OVG Ventures venture-capital fund.

It also owns industry trade titles Venues Today and Pollstar, the latter which it bought this summer.

It’s official: Oak View Group acquires Pollstar

According to Venues Today, the venues fully managed by Pinnacle are the Seminole Theatre (425-cap.) in Homestead, Florida; Kovalchick Complex at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which includes a 5,000-seat arena and 632-seat theatre; Watsco Center (8,000-cap.) in Miami; the 23,000sqft Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, Colorado; Avalon Theater (1,100-cap.), also in Grand Junction; and the 109,000sqft Birch Run Expo Center in Michigan.

OVG Facilities will differ from the Arena Alliance in that OVG “supports the facilities in our alliance; clients who are obviously very sophisticated and run their facilities very well,” co-chair Peter Luukko, who will also head OVG Facilities, tells the magazine. “In OVG Facilities, we’ll be directly managing and booking facilities. It’s full management.”

“OVG has been committed to facility management since day one,” adds Leiweke, “and our goal is to build the biggest facility management company in the world. We take a 360 approach to facility management, and when you combine our ground game, assets and relationships, and add to that Peter’s leadership, we feel we’re poised to do big things.”


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