Australia left with no Big Day Out, now in American hands

Iconic Australian music festival the Big Day Out is believed to be entirely American-owned after AJ Maddah, the Australian director of the event, sold his share to US company C3 Presents. It is also understood the festival will not be held anywhere in Australia next year as bookings have not been made for venues used in recent years.

Peter Thorpe, general manager of the Sydney Showground, confirmed on Wednesday that the BDO would not be held at the venue next year. "All I know is they cancelled the booking last week and we were told to release the date," Thorpe said.

"It's very disappointing for the fans and for us because it's an iconic event. It was the first rock and roll event I went to and the first we held. I was there for 20 years at Paddington and we've been with it here ever since."

Flemington Racecourse, which has hosted the BDO in Melbourne for many years, has been approached for comment.

The owner of major Melbourne venue which usually hosts BDO sideshows told Fairfax: "Your story is 100 per cent correct. There will not be a Big Day Out in 2015. Not a single agent has been approached by the BIg Day Out." He did not wish to be named.

Documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission on June 13 show that Tehran-born 41-year-old Arash (AJ) Maddah transferred his entire shareholding in B.D.O. Presents to C3 Presents, which is based in Austin, Texas.

The documentation also shows Maddah is no longer a director of B.D.O. Presents. Blake Kendrick, 24, from Menai, had been added as a director.

Kendrick, who was employed by the event as a junior accountant, is believed to be the only remaining member of the BDO staff from 2011, when C3 Presents acquired the share owned by former co-owner Vivian Lees. Former CEO Adam Zammit's employment is believed to have ended after this year's event.

The principal place of business has also changed; it is now registered with Johnson Winter & Slattery lawyers in Sydney.

The changes come less than a year after Maddah, the man behind the successful Soundwave festival, was named the most powerful person in the music industry. Shortly after Maddah cancelled his Harvest Festival and then announced to Fairfax Media he would run the BIg Day Out with Ken West and C3, which had previously purchased the share owned by West's former business partner, Lees.

But the BIg Day Out was something of a disaster this year, with reports of reduced crowds, allegations of unpaid debts to contractors and rumours the event lost between $9 million and $12 million.

Dave Faulkner, from the Hoodoo Gurus, said the change to US ownership may not be all bad, as long as C3 does resurrect the event from 2016: "It seemed that the AJ Maddah stewardship wasn't going so well. The good thing is [American owners] can't take it away from Australia because the value they have is intrinsically here. China doesn't want the BIg Day Out does it?

"Hopefully they will succeed and make a filthy big profit, because they will still be employing plenty of people here to run the shows. Running festivals is a rich man's game, while they create kingdoms and make grand decisions we can only hope the little people still get some crumbs off the table."