London's theatres for sale venues

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VIRTUALLY ALL London's most famous theatres, including the Palladium and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, will change hands in the next few months after the company that owns them was put up for sale.

A buyer for Stoll Moss Theatres, Britain's largest theatre owner, is being sought after it was put on the market by the Australian Heytesbury Group.

Janet Holmes a Court, Heytesbury's chairman and widow of Australian tycoon Robert Holmes a Court, said: "I have had a fantastic time running this company and it's right for me now to focus my energies on my home base, which will always be Australia."

It is thought Mrs Holmes a Court is off-loading Stoll Moss because she plans to launch a political career in Australia.

The move will mean that most of London's theatreland will be under new ownership by the end of the year as London's second largest theatre owner, Crescent, is also on the market.

The Stoll Moss portfolio includes the Cambridge, Her Majesty's, Queen's, Lyric, Gielgud, Apollo, Garrick and Duchess theatres. Advisers for Mrs Holmes a Court have instructed the City investment bank SG Hambros to find a buyer for the business, said to be worth pounds 100m.

The most likely purchaser appears to be SFX Entertainment, the United States company that is the world's largest operator of live venues. It recently bought the assets to Livent, the Broadway theatre owner in New York. One other potential buyer is the impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh.