Local NewsSaudi Arabia Invests $500 Million in Parent Company of Austin City Limits Festival

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia now owns over 5 percent of Live Nation, the parent company of the Austin music festival scheduled for October.
May 8, 2020
Austin City Limits (ACL) is one of the largest and most profitable events in Central Texas every year. Two years ago, it generated nearly $265 million in revenue. It attracts around 450,000 people every year from around the world.

Hundreds of artists make their way to ACL to perform.

The festival is put on by Austin-based promoter, C3 Presents, LLC which is majority-owned by Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. — a California-based concert and event behemoth.

But this year, a new stakeholder has an interest in ACL: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing shows Saudi Arabia purchased a 5.7 percent stake in Live Nation, which translates to $500 million.

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The festival takes place in the fall and this year’s dates are set for October 2-11.

Another Austin-based festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), was canceled earlier this year due to coronavirus as the city went on lockdown.

Organizers of the festival are counting on the avoidance of a second wave of the virus in the fall — as happened with the Spanish Flu a century ago. But even so, this new investment will give the parent companies some capital cushion at a time when the world economy has been upended.

But as so many other businesses have, Live Nation has implemented numerous reforms of its model to cut costs such as furloughing employees and cutting executive salaries.

Saudi Arabia has been in the global spotlight for its role in the volatility of the world oil market, as the Middle-Eastern country and Russia engaged in a production war at the front end of the coronavirus pandemic’s appearance in America. This caused a 30 percent drop in oil prices in early March.

Since then, the two OPEC nations, along with other countries such as the U.S., negotiated a deal to reduce production.

As one of the premier oil producers in the world, Saudi Arabia heavily relies on oil revenues for its financial well-being and global political power.

Despite being six months away, ACL’s status is in flux and largely dependent upon whether coronavirus cases and concerns subside.

But this new investment helps the festival’s prospect at least in the financial stability it provides.

Thus far, none of Live Nation’s music festivals have been canceled, only postponed.

The ACL festival has been an Austin staple since 2002.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

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