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HMV may keep hold of its festivals business for the time being

By | Published on Wednesday 23 May 2012

MAMA Group

According to various sources, HMV’s live division, the MAMA Group, may be split up before sale after all, though it’s possible the flagging retailer might actually keep hold of some of MAMA’s operations.

As previously reported, HMV let it be known that it was planning on selling MAMA late last year in a latest bid to raise quick cash to cut the company’s debts. AEG Live was quickly tipped as a leading bidder, though many noted that the US-based live entertainment major was likely to be most interested in MAMA’s venue portfolio, and in particular the flagship Hammersmith Apollo.

That led some to wonder whether MAMA’s other operations, including festivals, sponsorship, youth marketing and artist management, might be bought by a separate bidder, or be subject to a management buy out.

However, reports earlier this week in the Independent, that claimed AEG now had preferred bidder status and was in the final stages of talks with HMV to acquire MAMA, made no mention of a second bidder, perhaps suggesting AEG would takeover the whole of HMV’s live music business, even if it intended to sell some of the assets on down the line.

But, according to Sky News and City AM, there is a rumour that AEG is indeed only interested in the MAMA venues business, and that HMV is considering keeping hold of the other parts of its live division, in the short term at least. As previously reported, some of MAMA’s periphery units have begun to wind down since HMV put the company up for sale, as key executives have departed, though the festivals division remains substantial, if dependent to an extent on some key partnerships with third parties.

HMV is yet to comment on any of this speculation.