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Ticketmaster buys tech stake

In a bid to boost its growing movie-ticket business, Ticketmaster agreed to buy a controlling interest in Pacer/CATS/CCS Group, a Denver-based maker of computerized ticketing equipment.

Ticketmaster will acquire a 50% stake in Pacer/CATS from Wembley Plc., the troubled owner of England’s national soccer stadium.

And Ticketmaster will become managing partner of the joint venture.

The move is part of Ticketmaster’s efforts to grab a piece of a business that sells $ 2 billion worth of tickets annually.

“The magic word is ubiquitous,” said Fredric D. Rosen, Ticketmaster prexy/CEO. “We want to be everywhere. Anywhere there are a lot of tickets sold, we want to be there.”

The deal pairs Ticketmaster’s marketing and distribution system with Pacer/CATS’ technology. Ticketmaster hopes to expand its business of pre-selling movie tickets from remote locations. A customer, for example, will be able to buy movie tickets for a show later in the week from a music or department store with a Ticketmaster facility.

The companies declined to disclose terms of the deal, but Wembley had reportedly been looking to sell all of Pacer/CATS for roughly $ 35 million. Pacer/CATS currently has its systems installed in 4,000 venues worldwide.

Wembley, struggling to reduce its huge debt, needs to pay off $ 60 million by the end of this month. Wembley has sold off parts of its sports and entertainment business over the last year, raising roughly $ 36 million in the process.

In a joint statement, Wembley chairman Sir Brian Wolfson and Pacer/CATS prexy Israel Greidinger said only that Ticketmaster will “bring added value to our business.”

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