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Staging a comeback

Slater buys share of live-event promotion firm

Veteran concert promoter Mitch Slater has snapped up a controlling interest in the live-event promotion firm Metropolitan Entertainment Group from energy conglom Covanta, in a bid to re-establish himself as a leader in the live entertainment business he first entered two decades earlier.

Terms weren’t disclosed, but sources close to the situation said Covanta’s share in Metropolitan went for the bargain price of between $7 million and $8 million, as the energy company moves to divest itself of its non-core assets

Rival is Clear Channel

Purchase puts Slater, who will fold Metropolitan into his nascent media-investment venture Slater Entertainment, in the daunting position of competing against his former employer, Texas-based radio and concert giant Clear Channel.

“There’s no question that the competition is going to be fierce,” he said in an interview. “But the opportunity that’s there is being able to go back to basics. I think there’s a tremendous chance for us to expand our base, operating on a regional basis.”

Slater and his then-partner, Ron Delsener, sold their promotion business to industry leader SFX Entertainment, later swallowed by Clear Channel, which now runs a network of more than 120 venues nationwide. Slater was an exec VP at SFX before parting ways with the company last year.

Sale in wake of Scher suit

Sale comes just six weeks after John Scher — who founded and ran Metropolitan for 30 years until he was ousted last year — filed suit against his own former company and the Covanta execs that took it over, alleging that a non-compete deal he signed upon leaving was too harsh, and that Covanta had thwarted his attempts to arrange a sale just before ankling.

Scher claimed in the suit that Covanta’s actions contributed to one prospective buyer’s decision to pull its $17 million bid for Metropolitan.

Metropolitan got its start in 1971, and has exclusive booking deals with several venues along the Eastern seaboard, including New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and Baltimore’s Pier 6 Pavilion, among others.

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