AEG Ogden still harbors ambitions of adding the Sydney Entertainment Center to its portfolio. But a war of words has ignited after the Australian venue management firm openly questioned the venue's financial situation.
Sydney-based Arena Management, the current lessee on the venue, last Friday (July 3) laid blame for the collapse of a lease transfer squarely at the feet of AEG Ogden executives.
But AEG Ogden's take on events is rather different. The Brisbane-based company issued a statement in which it claimed that, during the due diligence process, accountants acting on its behalf identified a range of concerning issues.
"We are still interested in it. We've got a plan to rebrand, reposition and totally relaunch what has been a fantastic arena," AEG Ogden's CEO Harvey Lister tells Billboard.biz. "But it's just obvious that we were not able to finalize the arrangement with Arena because they refuse to provide the financial material required to enable any reasonable level of due diligence."
"I don't have a clue where that comes from," Arena Management's executive director Kevin Jacobsen responded.
And when asked if there was a chance for reviving talks with AEG Ogden, he retorted, "I'm not interested. I don't appreciate their ethics or their morals. Anyone who does a press release as they did - and I'm sure I could sue them for damages - I don't want to know them."
Arena Management reported last week that AEG Ogden had failed to meet a July 2 deadline to complete the lease transfer when it failed to secure consent from the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, which leases the 12,500-seat venue. Indeed, neither party could agree on who made the initial approach.
The rift between both parties is just one of a string of hurdles AEG Ogden would have to conquer were it to take on the SEC's continuing business. The company would require the green light from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and clearance from the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA). And both parties are understood to be contractually bound by clauses that prevent venue operators from managing arenas within 200 kilometres of one another.
AEG Ogden manages the Anschutz Entertainment Group's 15 sports and entertainment venue interests in the Asia Pacific region, including Acer Arena, the 21,000-capacity competitor to the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
In recent months, the Jacobsen family has decided to split and sell some its key entertainment assets, including the SEC and the 12,000-capacity Vector Arena in Auckland. Arena recently sold the 2,000-seat Capital Theatre in Sydney to Stephen Found, one of the principals of Bytecraft Entertainment.