Ron Burkle buys concert promoter Artist Group International


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Ron Burkle has added concert promotion to the arenas he wants to play in.

The man who made his fortune bagging supermarket chains and selling them off for billions has found his ticket into the live music business by purchasing Artist Group International, a New York agency that books concerts for Billy Joel, Metallica and others.

Burkle’s London-based investment firm, the Yucaipa Cos., on Thursday said its newly formed entertainment subsidiary Y Entertainment Group bought AGI for an undisclosed amount. The announcement was first reported on Deadline New York.


Burkle reportedly struck out last year trying to buy Warner Music Group, which ultimately was sold to Access Industries, controlled by fellow Forbes billionaire Len Blavatnik. (Burkle ranks as No. 107 on the Forbes 400 list of the world’s richest people, while Blavatnik is No. 32.) Some outlets have reported Burkle also was interested in EMI Music, sold to Universal Music Group, but Burkle has refuted this.

What’s clear is that Burkle, who co-owns the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, is interested in the entertainment business. The executive and investor is mulling a bid for the Dodgers, according to a report from The Times’ Bill Shaikin and Bill Plaschke.

A Yucaipa spokesman declined to comment beyond the company’s press release.

AGI, while not the same size as the top concert promoters Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Live, has survived over the last 25 years as an independent agent, booking concerts for a handful of high-profile clients such as Linkin Park, Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Rod Stewart. Its chief executive, Dennis Arfa, founded the company in 1986, signing up Billy Joel as one of his first clients. Arfa will continue to run AGI, Yucaipa said in a press release.


Citigroup puts EMI up for auction

Magic Johnson intends to bid for Dodgers

Access Industries buys Warner in deal valued at $3.3 billion


-- Alex Pham