'It's going to raise the bar': ASM Global chief Bob Newman on the AEG Facilities-SMG merger

'It's going to raise the bar': ASM Global chief Bob Newman on the AEG Facilities-SMG merger

AEG Facilities president Bob Newman has spoken to Music Week about the "truly exciting" opportunities served up by the company's merger with SMG.

Last week, the venue giants announced their intention to join forces to form ASM Global, a new standalone global facility management and venue services behemoth. The combined firm will operate more than 310 venues across five continents.

AEG Facilities is the venue management subsidiary of AEG, while Onex-owned SMG is the parent company of Manchester-based SMG Europe. Live Nation was linked with a move for SMG prior to its acquisition by Onex in early 2018.

"We're truly excited, said Newman, who will become president and CEO of ASM. "Opportunities like this don't come along that often and to be able to be involved with just a cutting-edge, dynamic new company to serve our industry is pretty special.

"We operate in a very competitive environment. Our clients have choices for our services just like artists and teams have choices where they go and we have to be able to provide the best experience we can. 

"You want to have best practices across all fronts and sometimes that is hard to create that when you're a standalone venue. What we're able to do is bring a level of support, a full toolbox to any location on an immediate basis and I think that one-stop shop is something that our clients have valued over time."

ASM will be headquartered in Los Angeles, with key operations based in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. 

"There was a willingness to take a look in the mirror as to what makes each company unique, special and successful and then you look in the other direction and think, 'If you work together what can you create down the road?' We're really excited with how we're going to deliver a new round of services and experiences by combining these two great companies."

Newman suggested the agreement made equal sense for both existing companies. "From a geography standpoint, we are very complementary to each other and the toolbox we deliver to our field teams across the globe are very complementary," he said. "It's going to raise the bar for all of our existing venues and enable us to deliver new and exciting services to them, as well as grow into new markets.

Subject to approval, the deal will see AEG retain ownership of its real estate holdings, including its owned venues in Los Angeles (Staples Center), London (The O2), Hamburg (Barclaycard Arena) and Berlin (Mercedes-Benz Arena).

Onex is contributing its entire equity investment in SMG into the merger, which includes UK venues Manchester Arena, Leeds' First Direct Arena, Newcastle Utilita Arena and SSE Arena, Belfast. 

"[The UK] is an important market for us," said Newman. "We think that the UK as a whole is one of the leading, if not the leading sports and entertainment market in the world and to be able to be a small part of that market is something very special to us."

Onex and AEG’s subsidiary will each own 50% of the company following the completion of the transaction, which is expected to be completed later this year, subject to regulatory approvals. 

"We'll go through the standard approval processes and upon the conclusion of that process we'll get started integrating, in a very positive way, all of the resources that exist in the two entities.

"We recognise that we work in a very competitive landscape and our clients have choices for how they organise the services that we provide. We have to be on top of our game and be the best in class in order to be successful and we recognise that and this puts us in a position to deliver on that."

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