The expected sale of Polygram Holdings to Universal Studios’ parent Seagram Co. Ltd. will have dramatic repercussions for Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose Really Useful Group is 30% owned by Polygram.
Already Wall Streeters are speculating about the impact of the sale — which could happen by week’s end — on Lloyd Webber’s company. Universal has, to date, shown little interest in establishing itself on Broadway, sources say, and is not expected to keep its presence.
Lloyd Webber would likely be keen to get his hands on the stake. When Polygram acquired the interest in 1991 for $110 million, it also received an option to increase its holdings to a majority interest in 2003, although it’s not clear whether that option transfers to a new owner.
What is known is that Lloyd Webber has no automatic right to buy the 30% stake back if control of Polygram changes, a clause that sometimes occurs in partnerships. That doesn’t prevent Lloyd Webber making an offer, however.
But it means he would have to compete with other interested parties, which could include anyone with an eye on Broadway, and some on Wall Street speculate Michael Ovitz’s Livent Inc. could be interested.
Livent has licensed Lloyd Webber productions in the past, such as “Sunset Boulevard,” and may be keen to have a more direct participation in Really Useful. Livent’s new CEO, Roy Furman, was not available for comment, and Polygram also declined comment.
Really Useful chief exec Bill Taylor was unavailable, sequestered away with the company’s New York-based U.S. representative, Peter Brown, in Really Useful’s London offices.
One source said the two were in the process of “determining the official line” on the Polygram sale, adding, “this has all come very quickly (for Really Useful) and the full implications are not yet known.”