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SMG Holdings To Be Acquired by Private Equity Firm Onex

Arena DigestSMG Holdings, whose SMG Venue Management is a leading player in the arena world, will be acquired by Canadian private-equity firm Onex Corporation — a move seen as preserving some competitive advantage in the venue world.

Terms of the SMG acquisition were not released.

The future of SMG, which manages venues like Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre and Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, had been widely discussed within the venue industry after it was obvious the firm was in play and a possible target of acquisition by Live Nation. SMG manages 239 facilities in eight countries, and a Live Nation/Ticketmaster acquisition would have created a behemoth with outsized power to control markets. But after Live Nation officials decided to pass on an offer, Onex moved in to finalize a deal. The SMG acquisition will keep the firm as an independent entity in a field that also includes Spectra, AEG, VenueWorks and OVG Facilities.

The transaction is expected to close in early 2018, subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals, according to an Onex press release. Besides the management of arenas, SMG manages convention centers, stadiums,, theatres, performing arts centers and other venues.

“SMG is the global gold standard in venue management,” said Amir Motamedi, a Managing Director with Onex, via press release. “We’re excited to work with Wes, his management team and the general managers within each of SMG’s venues to continue to provide the same world-class service their clients have come to expect.”

“Onex values the deep relationships our general managers have cultivated within the municipalities we serve, and its ownership mentality and long-term focus make it an ideal partner for us,” said Wes Westley, Chief Executive Officer of SMG, via press release.  “On behalf of the SMG management team, I look forward to working with Onex as we enter this next chapter of continued growth and success.”

The investment will be made by Onex Partners IV, Onex’ $5.7 billion fund.

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