South African promoter Big Concerts bought by US company

Live Nation Entertainment, one of the world's largest live entertainment companies, has extended its reach into Africa, recently acquiring a controlling interest in Big Concerts, one of the leading concert promoters in South Africa.

A Big Concerts event earlier this year, American singer Rodrigues in Cape Town. Photo: Big Concerts/Facebook
A Big Concerts event earlier this year, American singer Rodrigues in Cape Town. Photo: Big Concerts/Facebook

Michael Rapino, President and CEO of the American company, recently announced: “Our mission is to connect fans with the artists they love in every corner of the globe. Our entry into the South African market through the acquisition of Big Concerts expands the group’s global footprint to 38 countries and brings live entertainment at scale to a new continent.” 

Attie van Wyk and his son Justin van Wyk will continue to run Big Concerts. Attie said: “We are proud and excited to be joining the Live Nation team. Over the past five years the growth in the South African live entertainment industry has been exceptional, driven by investment in local infrastructure and strong consumer demand, all of which will continue to enable us to bring global superstars to the African continent in the future.” 

Justin added: "With world class stadiums and new arenas in the pipeline, South Africa is the most advanced economy in Africa and offers significant growth opportunities for the global live entertainment industry. We look forward to expanding the African live touring circuit and its attractiveness for global tours."

Alan Ridgeway, Live Nation’s president of international and emerging markets, said: “Since South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of artists visiting the country, with many acts now playing three or four cities. We look forward to working with Attie and Justin to further develop the South African market, as well as the broader African market as demand for live entertainment grows across the continent.”

Founded in 1989 by van Wyk (who as a producer is credited with launching the careers of Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Sello 'Chicco' Twala and many others), Big Concerts is South Africa’s biggest live concert promoter, having produced over 1 800 shows with more than 400 international artists over the years. The company is currently promoting the South African tours of global stars such as Lionel Richie in March, Mariah Carey, Josh Groban and Chris de Burgh in April, Iron Maiden in May and George Benson in June.

Live Nation has hosted over 23 000 thousand events across the globe, with 2 700 artists, including big names such as Beyonce, Madonna, Rihanna, Demi Lovato and many others. In the third quarter of 2015, Live Nation reported year on year revenue growth of 10% to $2.8 billion, with record growth in show attendance. According to the group, over 48 million people attended its shows in 2015 (to October).

While not stated explicitly by the companies, the buyout should make it easier for international tours to make a stop in South Africa.

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