US investor swoops on West End theatre company Ambassador

 
Michael Bow
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US BUYOUT firm Providence Equity Partners yesterday made its UK debut after taking control of the theatre group behind a string of West End hits, including The Rocky Horror Show and West Side Story.

Providence, which until yesterday did not have a current UK investment, has bought a controlling stake in Ambassador Theatre Group from UK firm Exponent Private Equity, which owns thetrainline.com and Quorn Foods. The sale, thought to be worth around £250m, follows a hotly contested auction process led by investment bank UBS. Providence was advised by Ingenious Corporate Finance.

Ambassador operates flagship venues in the West End, such as the Lyceum Theatre. Ambassador’s co-chief executives Sir Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire, will remain in place after the new financiers take the stage, as will current chairman Greg Dyke, the ex-BBC director-general.