Australia's Hi-Fi Live Venues Group Has New Owner

Australia's Hi-Fi live music brand has changed hands. 

The Hi-Fi, which has venues in Australia's three big cities (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane), found a buyer after the company was placed in administration on Feb. 13 following a reported dispute with its major creditor.

Venue administrators Romanis Cant announced the businesses have been sold to the newly registered Max Watt's Operating Pty Ltd (formerly Bar & Venue Operations Pty Ltd), which is based in Melbourne.

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Billboard understands Hi-Fi managing director Luke O'Sullivan (a former Australian Rules Football star) and co-founder Brad Pearce are no longer involved in the business they created. 

At this stage, all venue staff have been retained, and employees will know more about the situation when they meet with their new owners on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sources say a statement is expected later in the week.

"It's business as usual," James Power, the Hi-Fi's live booking director since 2009, tells Billboard.biz. "There's been no disruption to our day-to-day activities. Our business is trading as usual."  

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The Hi-Fi opened in central Melbourne (800 capacity) back in 1997. In 2009, Hi- Fi expanded its brand with the launch of a venue in Brisbane's West End (1,200 capacity). After an exhaustive eight-year search, Hi-Fi in 2012 opened a venue in Sydney (1,400 capacity) at the site of the Forum. With O'Sullivan at the helm, Hi-Fi briefly tackled the Asian market with a joint-venture in Vietnam. "We licensed our brand to an operator to have a look. It was good fun, we really enjoyed it and we learned a lot from it. After a period of time it wasn't working. But it was a low risk, and we went in carefully," O'Sullivan told this reporter in 2011. 

The likes of superstar acts Muse, Foo Fighters, No Doubt and The Strokes have played intimate shows at Hi-Fi venues. Current bookings includes shows by Bonobo, Switchfoot, Mobb Deep, A$AP Ferg and Peaches.