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Sanctuary Group Amps Up Manager Roster

April 23, 2001|JEFF LEEDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

British entertainment company Sanctuary Group, which has been on a multimillion-dollar acquisition spree since going public three years ago, is making a play to dominate the artist management business in the U.S.

The company is expected to name Guns N' Roses manager Doug Goldstein as the co-president of its expanding U.S. management division today--the first of several hires designed to draw mega-star clients into its fold. Guns N' Roses will join a management roster that includes metal band Iron Maiden and dance-pop act Pet Shop Boys.

Sanctuary's strategy is to act as a one-stop shop for handling all aspects of a musician's career. The company owns the Helter Skelter concert-booking agency, recording studios and a music-video production facility in the United Kingdom and a television production house in New Zealand.

Acts managed by Sanctuary would be charged a 20% fee but would receive reduced rates when using its other services, company officials said.

Sanctuary's U.S. chief executive, Merck Mercuriadis, said the management division's 60-person staff, deployed in offices in the U.K. and Germany, will see firsthand how its acts' records are being handled outside the U.S. Mercuriadis said that will give acts a potential edge over those whose managers rely on record labels' international divisions for follow-through.

"America is a place where there's tremendous opportunities for management. I don't think the demand for quality management by superstars has ever been bigger," he said.

Indeed, the company's initiative comes a week after word leaked out that superstar Michael Jackson and management powerhouse the Firm had parted ways. Such acts as Sting and Beck split from their longtime managers earlier this year.

But rival management executives suggested Sanctuary's large management staff couldn't offer acts as much personal attention as a smaller company. Moreover, they predicted its overhead costs would cut into profit once its expansion blitz ends.

The company, which owns BMG-distributed Sanctuary Records, also paid an estimated $70 million last year to purchase two other labels, North Carolina-based CMC International and the United Kingdom's Castle Music. Owing in part to the acquisitions, profit last year jumped 84% to $5.6 million, company documents show.

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