HMV set to add music venues in Mama takeover

ENTERTAINMENT and music retailer HMV has a clear run to take over a string of live music venues, including the Edinburgh Picture House and The Warehouse in Aberdeen, from Mama Group after a rival offer collapsed yesterday.

HMV is set to become the full owner of the music and festival company's 11 venues, which also include the famous Hammersmith Apollo in London.

Already owning a 9.9 per cent stake in Mama, HMV sounded out a 46 million bid for a full takeover after main shareholder, SMS Finance, announced its 38.3m unsolicited bid on 10 December. Luxembourg-based SMS, the investment arm of Italian telecoms magnate and billionaire Silvio Scaglia, had a 29.8 per cent majority shareholding in Mama Group.

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After SMS failed to up its offer following HMV's move, shareholder disinterest has seen off the SMS bid, with the path now cleared for Mama's takeover by the high-street retailer.

Mama's directors, Adam Driscoll, Dean James and Charles McIntyre, have given their full backing to the takeover and are expected to gain 4m each for their stakes, with HMV offering 5.4p for each share.

HMV will also branch into Mama's high-profile artist management and music producers' portfolio, which has worked with Scottish musicians and bands, including Franz Ferdinand, Travis and David Byrne. It will also acquire a large number of artists through Mama's stake in North American Nettwerk Music.

Simon Fox, HMV's chief executive, is keen to tap into the huge public appetite for live music in an attempt to stem hits to the group's CD sales from online downloads and supermarket competition.

The retailer, which also owns the Waterstone's book chain, will post an update on its Christmas sales next week, with hopes pinned on it acquiring more venues, while using its stores to promote and sell tickets to live events and festivals.

Mama Group bought live music venues and brand rights from the Mean Fiddler group in 2007. It expanded into hosting music events, such as Global Gathering, Lovebox and Great Escape festivals.