TW may buy Ticketmaster

The owners of Ticketmaster Corp., the world’s largest broker of tickets, are considering selling the company to Time Warner, according to concert industry sources.

Talk of the deal buzzed through the music industry last week, fueled by the ties between the two companies.

Last April, Ticketmaster and Warner Music Group announced a joint venture to establish a computerized ticket service in Europe, Ticketmaster Europe Group (Daily Variety, April 8, 1992).

The two companies had teamed previously in a joint venture called “Entertainment to Go,” which links Ticketmaster with Time Warner-owned A*Vision Entertainment to pitch audio and video products to consumers who call Ticketmaster to purchase tickets (Daily Variety, June 24, 1991).

A spokesman for Ticketmaster declined comment; Time Warner officials could not be reached.

Sources close to Ticketmaster said the company has been shopped for some time by chairman/CEO Fred Rosen, who runs it for the Pritzker family of Chicago, whose estimated $ 3.4 billion holdings include the Hyatt Hotel chain, Carnival Cruises and the Chameleon Records label.

Ticketmaster became the undisputed computerized ticker leader in February 1991 by purchasing its nearest rival, Ticketron. At the time of that sale, Ticketron was estimated to have grossed $ 500 million in sales in 1990, with Ticketmaster reportedly at $ 600 million in sales. Both companies, however, keep only a fraction of their gross revenues.

It is believed Ticketmaster will be seeking a price in excess of $ 100 million, although sources say the company’s revenue stream make it more likely to fetch in the neighborhood of $ 50 million dollars.

Warner Music Group chairman Robert Morgado has been an advocate of using Ticketmaster technology to expand his company’s market share, using his pulpit as the keynoter at last year’s National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers convention to call for increased innovation in marketing.

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