Big Beat venues go to Mean Fiddler

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The Independent Online

Mean Fiddler will more than double in size after winning a lucrative contract to manage the former Big Beat venues, which were sold by its receiver yesterday for £18.5m.

Mean Fiddler will more than double in size after winning a lucrative contract to manage the former Big Beat venues, which were sold by its receiver yesterday for £18.5m.

The entertainment group that runs the Reading music festival teamed up with several music entrepreneurs including Peter Dyer, owner of London's Hanover Grand nightclub, to form Finlaw 279 to buy the assets of Big Beat.

A spokesman for London-based Mean Fiddler, which will take over management of the 21 venues nationwide in September, said it expected to buy some of the Big Beat assets.

The Scottish-based pub, club and restaurant business went into receivership in April after police raided its Home nightclub in London's Leicester Square.

The deal will safeguard 600 jobs. It gives Mean Fiddler a nationwide presence. Big Beat's other venues include Nottingham's Media and Glasgow's Tunnel. It also has two hotels.

Mean Fiddler has no plans to rebrand the venues. "Mean Fiddler's venues all operate under different brands ranging from the Astoria nightclub and the Jazz Café in London, which are all independent of Mean Fiddler," said a spokesman. KPMG, the receiver, said there were more than 450 enquiries for the business and 123 offers.

Big Beat, which last year had a valuation in excess of £50m, has more than £30m of debts remaining. KPMG is still seeking a buyer for Home Sydney, a nightclub in Australia.

Separately, shareholders in the AIM-listed tiddler Meanfiddler.com yesterday agreed to a £33.5m reverse takeover of Mean Fiddler Holdings, its parent. The enlarged company will be called Mean Fiddler Music Group. It hopes to raise £4m to £7m net of expenses to fund the move through the issue of 47.8 million shares.

Mean Fiddler shares closed up 0.5p at 1.5p.

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