Vince Power takes back seat at Mean Fiddler

Vince Power, the impresario who set up the live music and festival business Mean Fiddler, has cashed in his £12m stake and stepped down as executive chairman after 23 years.

The move came as Mean Fiddler, which owns the Reading and Leeds festivals as well as a 32 per cent stake in the Glastonbury festival, made a £5.7m investment in the music download market. It has bought Media Internet Telecom (MIT) from Richard Clingen, a Monaco-based entrepreneur who already operates a joint venture with Mean Fiddler in the download business. He will take over from Mr Power as chairman.

Mr Power said yesterday he began thinking about leaving the company when it floated in 2000. He admitted he has never been at ease running a public company. Earlier this year, he sold 24 per cent of his stake to Denis Desmond, a rival music promoter.

Mr Power, who founded the Mean Fiddler business with the rock venue in Harlesden, west London, in 1981, will stay on as a non-executive director overseeing the festivals business. His stake was worth as much as £178m at the height of the boom in 2000.

Mr Clingen could receive up to £8m for MIT as part of the all-share deal if it meets performance targets. He intends to expand Mean Fiddler's download offering.

Mean Fiddler also announced it had raised £5.6m through a share placing and that its operational losses for the six months to the end of June had halved to £0.5m, with turnover increasing 35 per cent to £20m. Like-for-like sales in its live music venues were up 10 per cent over the period.

Dean James, currently chief operating officer, will become chief executive of Mean Fiddler. He and Mr Clingen have each been granted options worth up to £1.1m.

After Mr Power's decision to sell out, Harry Lambert, a non-executive director, sold his 4.8 million shares and a group of Mr Power's friends who helped back the launch of the Mean Fiddler have also sold out of the company.