Saturday 25 January 2020

Denis Desmond enjoys dividend windfall from UK firm

Music fans at the sell-out Electric Picnic Festival
Music fans at the sell-out Electric Picnic Festival

Gordon Deegan

Concert promoter Denis Desmond has added to his fortune by sharing a dividend totalling £5m (€5.9m) from his Festival Republic business last year.

Last year, the Irish arm of Festival Republic staged the sold-out Electric Picnic at Stradbally, Co Laois.

New figures for its UK arm, Festival Republic Ltd just lodged with Companies House in the UK, show it recorded a 30pc fall in pre-tax profits last year to £3.86m. Revenues at the firm dipped from £41.95m to £41.1m in the 12 months to the end of December last. Operating profits last year fell from £5.46m to £3.84m.

Desmond's Gaiety Investments has a 49.9pc share in Festival Republic with international concert promoters Live Nation owning the remaining shares.

The dividend payout last year follows a dividend payout of £19m in 2014; £3.29m in 2013; £2.93m in 2012; and £6.6m in 2011. Festival Republic in the UK stages the annual Reading and Leeds festivals and last year staged five shows compared to seven in 2014. Numbers attending the shows last year dropped from 580,653 to 561,718.

According to the directors' report, the company is profit- making and had sufficient cash balance. The report states: "The company's forecasts project that it will continue to trade profitably and be in a strong liquidity position." Melvin Benn is managing director of Festival Republic Ltd. The figures show that Festival Republic's accumulated profits last year decreased to £7.7m after the dividend pay out with the firm's cash declining from £1.64m to £565,061. The remuneration for one unidentified director at Festival Republic totalled £807,633 last year with the other directors' emoluments borne by other companies.

The numbers employed last year decreased from 88 to 84 with staff costs rising from £3.38m to £3.48m. The dividend payout by Festival Republic is the second dividend windfall that Mr Desmond has enjoyed from his UK business interests recently.

Separate accounts filed by another UK joint venture with Live Nation, Academy Music Group (AMG), show that Mr Desmond received a sizeable chunk of £13.64m in dividends through his share in LN Gaiety Holdings Ltd.

Last year was a bumper one for Academy Music with revenues rising by 11pc to £35.7m.

Pre-tax profits at the firm increased marginally to £6.078m.

Mr Desmond's successful MCD Productions here in Ireland is unlimited and not required to file annual accounts.

Yesterday, Denis Desmond said he was enjoying "a good year again" in the business.

"Electric Picnic and Reading festivals have both already sold out. The V Festival, with Justin Bieber, Sia, Rihanna, David Guetta, is about to sell out."

Irish Independent

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