Friday 15 December 2017

Well-known music promoter John Reynolds settles case against Electric Picnic operator

John Reynolds, former promoter of Electric Picnic
John Reynolds, former promoter of Electric Picnic

Tim Healy

A COMPANY of music promoter John Reynolds has settled its legal action against the company operating the Electric Picnic. Mr Reynolds alleged he was excluded from a range of issues concerning handling of the festival.

The issue of liability in the case was listed for an eight day hearing before Mr Justice Peter Kelly at the Commercial Court today but, after some discussions between the sides, the judge was told this afternoon the full action had settled. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

The judge granted an application by Martin Hayden SC, for Mr Reynolds, to adjourn the case to June 10th for mention only so as to allow for implementation of the settlement. Maurice Collins SC, for Festival Republic Dublin, said it was expected the full proceedings would be struck out on that date.

POD Music Ltd brought the action against FRD under Section 205 of the Companies Acts. FRD had in 2009 spent €4.2m on acquiring a 71 per cent stake in EP Festivals Ltd, a subsidiary of Mr Reynolds’ company, POD Music Ltd.

Mr Reynolds alleged breach of a March 2009 shareholders agreement concerning the Electric Picnic, and oppression of the petitioner’s interests.

Mr Reynolds, who was in court today, claimed he had founded the Electric Picnic in 2004 but was not being allowed operate the festival as envisaged and that was causing considerable hardship and risk to POD Music.

He claimed management decisions made by Melvin Benn of FRD relating to the 2012 and 2013 picnics were damaging to POD Music, the 100 per cent shareholder of EP Republic Ltd, but were to the benefit of the FRD Group.

Mr Reynolds also claimed he was kept out of volume discounting on sales of tickets and lost out as a result. His side estimated a discounting sum of €450,000 was involved over the five Electric Picnics between 2009 and 2013 and Mr Reynolds claimed the discount payments had a direct impact on the value of his shareholding.

For the purpose of the hearing, Mr Reynolds previously secured orders requiring Ticketmaster to provide him with information about volume discounts paid on the sale of tickets for five Electric Picnic festivals up to 2013.

In opposing the case, FRD alleged Mr Reynolds had been engaging in a deliberately obstructive pattern of behaviour and was seeking to have his shares bought out at “grossly inflated prices”.

It denied Mr Reynolds was excluded from managing the Electric Picnic or that the FRD Group’s controlling companies, Live Nation and Gaiety Investments, merely sought to make the Picnic part of their stable of festivals and outdoor events.

Mr Benn said he has been promoting unique festivals since 1979 and Mr Reynolds had presented a one-sided account of how the management of the festival has worked both before and after 2009.

There was no evidence POD Music Ltd has been oppressed and, when FRD acquired its stake in the Picnic operator in 2009, POD Concerts Ltd, the then owner of 70 per cent of the festival, was heavily loss making, Mr Benn said.

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