Live Nation appears to have stepped up its plan to stretch its European empire through the Baltic states and all the way to Moscow.
For a year, the world’s biggest promoter has declined to “confirm or deny” it was heading in that direction, but Pollstar can reveal it’s set up a new company called Live Nation Russia and The Baltics.
It’s a limited company registered in Helsinki and the managing director is Risto Juvonen, who headed LN’s Finnish office until taking a sabbatical in September 2010.
The other directors are listed as LN international chairman for music Thomas Johansson, current LN Finland managing director Nina Castren, Nordic region president Carl Pernow, new European president of concerts John Reid and international accountancy firm Ernst & Young.
The first move will likely be cutting a deal to buy Baltic Development Group, the major promoter in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
BDG chief Peeter Rebane, who has been LN’s working partner in the region for a couple of decades, confirmed that talks with the American company have been going on for “several years.”
“We hope that one day we will become part of the Live Nation family and continue working towards that goal,” he said.
This year, Rebane and LN are working together on Sting and expect to announce more co-promotions in the coming weeks.
Johansson also says no moves are imminent and all that has happened so far is that Live Nation Russia and The Baltics has been set up to enable the expansion, should the company decide to go ahead with it.
Moving further east into Russia could be problematic. LN chief exec Michael Rapino looked at the market in 2004, when he spearheaded the company’s move into the old Eastern Bloc by buying Multimedia in Hungary, Interkoncerts in the Czech Republic and Odyssey in Poland. It appears that the difficulties non-Russian companies have when doing business in Russia was sufficient deterrent.
LN’s regular Russian partners include Nadia Solovieva’s Moscow-based SAV Entertainment, which was Rapino’s initial target in the territory, and Michael Shurygin’s St. Petersburg-based Nord Concert Alliance.
In January, LN increased its presence in the old Eastern Bloc by moving into Croatia with the acquisition of a 25 percent stake in Zagreb-based Adria Entertainment.
More immediate expansion may come in the far east, where former LN international chief exec Alan Ridgeway – now president of international and emerging markets and based in Dubai – has recently opened LN’s South Korea Office.
Last month the company unveiled Live Nation Japan, a joint venture with Tokyo-based Creativeman Productions.