Michael Jackson's death hits tour promoters

Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:08am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's sudden death could prove a major blow to AEG Live, promoter of his eagerly awaited run of 50 London concerts, as well as to fans who paid well over the odds to get hold of coveted tickets.

The residency at the O2 Arena had been due to begin on July 13, and organizers have yet to decide exactly how they handle refunding tickets bought directly from themselves or authorized dealers, not to mention tickets bought from unauthorized dealers, online auction sites and ticket touts.

AEG Live's British website issued a brief statement on Jackson's death and added: "A further announcement for ticket holders will be made in due course."

Paying back the face value of some of the estimated 750,000 tickets sold is unlikely to be AEG Live's only headache.

The company is reported to have invested $20-30 million on the production already, not including any advance to Jackson.

And the O2 Arena, which appears on AEG's list of sites it owns or operates, is now faced with 50 empty nights, some of which it will struggle to fill at such short notice.

AEG Live's financial exposure will depend partly on how well insured it was for the 50-concert run.

According to industry experts, the concert promoter, a subsidiary of Anschutz Entertainment Group, initially found demand among insurers when the concerts were announced in March.   Continued...