Really Useful coin

Lloyd Webber's org refinances debt

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group has refinanced the company’s debt through a £150 million ($281 million) banking facility with Bank of Scotland Corporate in a deal brokered by Riverhill Partners. RUG will maintain 100% ownership of its extensive music copyrights and other assets.

Financial package secures the organization’s future via its repayment of debt and personal loans taken out on behalf of RUG.

Furthermore, the move ends almost two years of intense industry speculation over the future direction of RUG.

Following financial pressure from its erstwhile partner Bridgepoint Capital, a private equity firm that co-owned the group’s Really Useful Theaters chain, RUG appointed Patrick McKenna and Ingenious Media in January 2005 to advise on all available options.

Nothing was ruled out, from the sale of the group’s theaters to the sale of the rights to Lloyd Webber’s own back catalog.

In July, the group raised money by divesting itself of its four smallest playhouses — the Apollo, the Duchess, the Garrick and the Lyric — in a sale to Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer, who trade as Nimax Theaters. Then, in November, Lloyd Webber borrowed a further £35 million ($66 million) to buy out Bridgepoint.

RUG chief exec Andre Ptaszynski said, “This is an excellent deal for the group and the culmination of RUG’s strategy to take control of 100% of the Really Useful Group’s interests across shows, copyrights, theaters and ticketing. We are looking for further acquisitions in all areas, and we pledge to continue to invest in a program of theater refurbishment.”

Lloyd Webber scored a major success with his TV talent search “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?,” which has contributed to a reported £9.2 million ($17.2 million) box office advance for his upcoming production of “The Sound of Music,” opening Nov. 15 at the group’s London Palladium.

“I am very happy that we decided to invest further in the company last year rather than sell it,” he said Tuesday. “We now have total ownership of all our companies in the Really Useful Group, and Bank of Scotland has provided us with the ideal financing for the business. It is very much a family concern, and because we now own 100% of it privately, we can be quicker on our feet while taking a longer-term view.”

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