HOB Concerts Sale Heating Up

Sources: AEG Live, SMG are lead contenders.

A deal to purchase House of Blues Concerts is on the fast-track, with bids coming in from several high-profile parties, sources say.

Among those conducting due diligence and putting together bids are Clear Channel Entertainment, AEG Live, Nederlander Organization, arena management firm SMG, a group led by former Ticketmaster CEO Fred Rosen and Jack Utsick Presents. Sources say AEG Live and SMG are the front-runners. Bids are due in mid-February.

A decision could come down by the end of the month, a time-frame that jibe with HOB Entertainment CEO Greg Trojan's forecast of a speedy negotiation process.

In a previous interview, Trojan told Billboard, "We're going through a very quick evaluation process -- and I define that by weeks, not months -- to understand if there's a transaction we would be interested in that would benefit our shareholders."

HOB announced late last year that it had retained global financial services firm UBS to evaluate the potential sale of its concert division, which Trojan defines as "anything not part of the club business."

HOB owns, operates or exclusively books 20 arenas and amphitheaters in North America. HOB acquired its concert division for $190 million in 1999 from Seagram, which operated the unit as Universal Concerts. HOB reported concert grosses totaling $250 million in 2004, according to Billboard Boxscore.