Arena Management, operator of the Sydney Entertainment Centre, has admitted competitor AEG Ogden had been circling the venue's operating lease, but said any such deal has since been nixed.

Reports had emerged in recent days that AEG Ogden was in discussions with the Jacobsen family, the majority stakeholder in Arena Management, to secure the SEC lease which is due to expire in 2018. The 12,500-seat venue is leased by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA)s.

Brisbane-based AEG Ogden manages the Anschutz Entertainment Group's 15 sports and entertainment venue interests in the Asia Pacific region, including Acer Arena, the SEC's 21,000-capacity cross-town rival.

In a statement issued today (July 3), Arena Management admitted it had entered
into a conditional agreement with AEG Ogden, but said the latter company had failed to meet Thursday's deadline to complete the lease transfer.

"AEG Ogden was unable to secure SHFA's consent by July 2, 2009 and therefore was unable to proceed with the transfer of lease and sale of the business," according to the statement. One of the factors hinged on AEG Ogden obtaining approval from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission. AEG Ogden could not be reached for further comment.

Arena Management also poured cold water on reports the SEC was ripe for the taking. "Arena rejects completely suggestions by AEG Ogden casting doubt on SEC operations. The SEC has recently undergone a $4.2 million Australian ($3.3 million) refurbishment," it continues "and remains Sydney's leading entertainment venue and the venue of choice for touring international artists."

Alice Cooper, Il Divo, Liza Minnelli and Keith Urban are among the acts booked to play the SEC in the coming months.

Arena Management operates the 12,400-capacity Sydney Entertainment Centre, the 2,000-capacity Capitol Theatre in Sydney, and the 12,000 Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, which opened in March 2007.

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