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21 October 2013

Exponent sells majority stake in Ambassador Theatre Group to Providence Equity Partners

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Exponent Private Equity [“Exponent”] today announces that it has reached an agreement to sell its majority stake in The Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd [“ATG”] to private equity firm Providence Equity Partners [“Providence”].

Exponent retains a minority stake in ATG as part of the deal, and will continue to work with Providence and the existing management team, including ATG's joint CEOs and co-founders Sir Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire OBE.  Greg Dyke will continue in his role as ATG's Chairman.

ATG has grown to be the world's number one live-theatre group with a total of 40 venues in Britain and on Broadway and an international theatre producer with co-productions in New York, across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.  ATG is also a leader in theatre ticketing services through ATG Tickets - issuing more than 10m tickets annually.

Bucking current retail trends, ATG has continued to achieve steady year-on-year growth and featured in the 2013 Sunday Times Profit Track 100.  The recent purchase of Foxwoods Theatre - the largest theatre on Broadway - signifies the Group's intention to expand internationally, focusing on new markets in North America, Asia and Australia.

Exponent has been ATG's majority shareholder since 2009 when the company acquired Live Nation's UK theatres.

Terms of the transaction with Providence were not disclosed.

Commenting on the sale, Richard Lenane of Exponent said:

“ATG is an internationally recognised business with a first class management team, which has experienced profitable growth and achieved significant success since our original investment in the business in 2009.  We look forward to continuing to work closely alongside the team at ATG and also with Providence as the business enters the next phase of its development.”

ATG's Joint CEO's Sir Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire OBE issued the following statement:

“We're thrilled with today's announcement and very pleased to be working alongside Providence in taking ATG into the next exciting phase of its development.  This new partnership cements the foundations for the company's planned future growth. Providence's extensive global reach and their existing investments in media, digital and live entertainment companies around the world offer an unparalleled opportunity for ATG to realise its international ambitions.  We're also pleased to be maintaining our close working relationship with Exponent with whom we've enjoyed some real successes over the past 4 years.”

Andrew Tisdale, Managing Director of Providence, said:

“We have been very impressed by the management of ATG who have built a terrific company over more than 20 years. We believe strongly in the long term value of live entertainment. ATG is well-known for the high quality of its theatrical and musical content and venues and we look forward to working closely with Howard, Rosemary, their senior management team and Exponent in continuing to grow ATG.”

UBS Investment Bank acted as sole financial advisor to ATG and Exponent on the sale. Providence was assisted on the transaction by Ingenious Corporate Finance and Weil, Gotshal & Manges.