NEW YORK — SFX Entertainment Inc., the world's largest producer of live entertainment events, agreed to acquire the assets of troubled theater company Livent Inc. to gain its theaters and Broadway production rights.
Terms weren't disclosed. New York-based SFX will pay cash, deferred payment rights and warrants to buy Livent common stock at premiums. SFX produces live music, theater and sporting events. Livent filed for bankruptcy protection in November.
SFX Entertainment, led by Chairman Robert Sillerman, has been on a buying spree with more than $1 billion in acquisitions since April 1998. SFX will acquire Livent's theaters in New York, Chicago and Toronto and the rights to current and future Livent productions including "Fosse," "Ragtime" and the Canadian production of "Phantom of the Opera."
"I can't think of a better name to pick up some of the assets from Livent, to retrieve some of the gems from the ashes," said Bishop Cheen, a fixed-income analyst at First Union Capital Markets Corp. "SFX is extremely well-versed in presentation and touring of Broadway shows."
Livent filed for bankruptcy protection in November, three months after new managers discovered what they alleged was massive fraud by founders Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb to falsify financial statements to make the company look successful. An investor group led by Hollywood super agent Michael Ovitz controls about 39% of Livent shares.
SFX will also gain the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in New York, the Pantages Theatre in Toronto and the Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theater in Chicago through the acquisition. Livent's Ford Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the company's headquarters in Toronto are not part of the agreement, though SFX will lease Livent's headquarters.
SFX Entertainment shares rose $1.56 to $56 on Nasdaq. Livent closed at 5 cents, down 2 cents on the Toronto stock exchange. The acquisition is expected to close by Sept. 30, pending approval by bankruptcy courts in the U.S. and Canada and other regulatory authorities.