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2020 in review: April

In April, Madison Square Garden Company confirmed it would be broken up into two separate entertainment and sport businesses.

The month continued to see streams of Covid-19-related event cancellations, including the five annual Edinburgh festivals, including the International Festival and the Fringe.

The August festivals usually attract over almost half a million visitors to the Scottish capital each year across more than 5,000 events, as well as 25,000 performers from over 70 different countries.

In addition, the Wimbledon tennis grand slam was cancelled for the first time since World War Two after organisers conceded that the challenges presented by COVID-19 were insurmountable.

It was in April that the West End extended its closure until May 31 in order to process bookings whilst waiting for governmental clarity on reopening. Similarly, Broadway also extended its theatres closures until June 7.

In April, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), purchased a passive 5.7 per cent stake in Live Nation. The PIF is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia and is among the largest investment groups in the world with total estimated assets of $320bn. It was founded for the purpose of investing funds on behalf of the Government of Saudi Arabia.

In the same month, Live Nation chief executive Michael Rapino announced he would forgo his $3m annual salary as part of measures to cut spending by $500m in 2020 after suffering severe losses from the live events blackout due to Covid-19.

The live entertainment giant unveiled a series of financial moves to protect its concert business amid the shutdown, including a new $120m credit facility and a ‘cost-reduction programme,’ which included Rapino’s 100 per cent pay cut.

In addition, Ticketmaster North America was forced to furlough a quarter of its employees after it was revealed that refunds worth $400m had already been handed out.

Meanwhile, the UK’s competition watchdog officially launched a merger inquiry into the proposed deal between resale giants Viagogo and StubHub in April.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gave notice to the two firms some four months after it began considering whether the deal should be allowed to proceed.

Image: Ajay Suresh / CC BY 2.0 / Edited for size