Detroit’s Fisher Theatre to be Acquired by U.K. Company

The Fisher Theatre in Detroit, which has long been owned by The Nederlander Co., will be acquired by International Entertainment Holdings Ltd. in London, the parent company of The Ambassador Theatre Group, also in the United Kingdom. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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Fisher Theatre Auditorium
The Fisher Theatre, which has long been owned by The Nederlander Co., will be acquired by International Entertainment Holdings Ltd. in London. // Photograph by Dan Lippitt

The Fisher Theatre in Detroit, which has long been owned by The Nederlander Co., will be acquired by International Entertainment Holdings Ltd. in London, the parent company of The Ambassador Theatre Group, also in the United Kingdom. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The pending acquisition also includes the acquisition by International Entertainment of the Golden Gate Theatre and Orpheum Theatre, both Nederlander venues in San Francisco. The acquisition of the Fisher will include its programming operation of the Detroit Opera House and Music Hall.

“These unique venues have been home to Broadway’s greatest shows, serving local and regional audiences for generations,” says Robert Nederlander Sr., chairman and CEO of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment. “We are confident that the ATG team will continue to look after the strong foundation that we have created with these theatres in their respective communities and to take them into this next decade with great success.”

The transaction is scheduled to close on March 29, and Ambassador will take over the stewardship of the venues.

“This extraordinary portfolio of venues located in San Francisco and Detroit, two of America’s key theatrical touring cities, is comprised of precious assets, and we are delighted to be taking over their stewardship,” says Mark Cornell, CEO of Ambassador. “We look forward to providing the best of Broadway’s shows to their loyal following when the theatres reopen in 2021.”

Nederlander has overseen the operation of the theaters for more than 50 years. Nederlander is also the exclusive promoter and presenter of Broadway touring and other theatrical productions at the Detroit Opera House and the Music Hall.

The Fisher Theatre was built in 1928 and was renovated into a Broadway touring house under the management of the Nederlanders in 1961. It has a capacity of about 2,100 seats and is a National Historic Landmark.

The Detroit Opera House was built in 1922 and has a venue capacity of about 2,750 seats. It also hosts the principal opera company in Michigan. The Music Hall was built in 1928, has a seating capacity of 1,700, and is home to a range of performing arts and education including dance and music. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Golden Gate Theatre was built in 1922 and has a venue capacity of about 2,300 seats. It is part of the Market Street Theatre and Loft District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Orpheum Theatre was built in 1926, has a venue capacity of 2,200 seats, and is designated as a Historical Landmark.

Combined, the venues have been home to some of the most successful Broadway shows in their respective locations by number of attendees for musicals and dramatic theatre. Such shows have included the world premieres of “Hello Dolly,” “Fiddler On The Roof,” “The Gay Life,” “No Strings,” “BIG,” and “Movin’ Out” and the U.S. premiere of “Love Never Dies,” as well as Broadway tours including “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” “Les Miserables,” “West Side Story,” “Chicago,” “Rent,” “The Book Of Mormon,” and “Phantom of The Opera.”

Ambassador is a portfolio company of Rhode Island’s Providence Equity Partners.

“Our continued support of and investment in ATG and in these venues reflects our deep conviction in the value of live theatre,” says Andres Tisdale, senior managing director at Providence. “The Nederlander family has a long history of promoting the best in live entertainment, and we are excited to be bringing these wonderful venues and venue teams into the ATG family. We want to continue to expand ATG’s presence in the United States and know that audiences in San Francisco and Detroit will enjoy for many years the high-quality programming that ATG will help bring to these landmark venues.”

The transaction was initiated by Lisbeth R. Barron, whose firm, Barron International Group, was the exclusive financial adviser to Nederlander.

Ambassador was founded in 1992, and its portfolio includes historic theaters, studio theaters, cinemas, conference spaces, and modern live music arenas across the United Kingdom, the U.S., and Germany. It stages more than 12,000 live performances per year.

Providence is a global private equity firm with more than $44 billion in aggregate capital commitments. Since its founding in 1989, it has invested in more than 170 companies.

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