What’s next? Some industry observers question the Lee/Bain endgame. Is there an IPO on the horizon, possibly in conjunction with WMG? Or is there a potential buyer for the newco? Action to come.

THOMAS H. LEE’S SCOTT SPERLING, BAIN PUT AZOFF, KAUFMAN BACK ON FRONT LINE

Former Partners Reunited in Newly Funded $200 Million-Plus Management Company That Includes Online, Ticketing, Traditional Record Company
Reunited and it feels so good... for now.

One-time partners Irving Azoff and Howard Kaufman are back together again in Front Line, a media company which will be involved in management, online ventures, ticketing and a traditional record company.

The pair joined forces after Thomas H. Lee Partners Scott Sperling and Bain Capital, two of the principles in last year’s Edgar Bronfman Jr. acquisition of the Warner Music Group, funded a $200 million+ investment in the management company headed by Azoff. Azoff then used part of that cash influx to acquire Kaufman’s HK firm.

The two were originally partners in the first Front Line management company until Azoff left to join MCA Records as President in the mid-‘80s.

Sperling was a moving force in the deal, which at one time was reportedly to include Jeff Kwatinetz’s The Firm. Sperling and Azoff first met back in the late ’70s, when the financier was a student at Purdue and booked the Eagles to perform there.

The new company will be divided into two divisions, a management firm and Front Line Music Services, which will include online and ticketing components as well as a traditional record business.

Insiders say that Azoff has now targeted artist managers Pat Magnerella, Arnold Stiefel and Jim Guerinot's Rebel Waltz, while Kaufman is headed to Nashville with a checkbook in hand to gobble up country management companies.

What’s next? Some industry observers question the Lee/Bain endgame. Is there an IPO on the horizon, possibly in conjunction with WMG? Or is there a potential buyer for the newco? Action to come.

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