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P-MRC Takes Stake in SXSW Festival

South by Southwest, the Austin, Tex.-based festival of music, technology, fashion and film that was hit hard by the coronavirus, has a new investor.

P-MRC, a joint venture between Penske Media Corp. and MRC, whose holdings include The Hollywood Reporter, Rolling Stone and Variety, has acquired a stake in South by Southwest (SXSW), it was revealed Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal reported that it is a 50 percent stake.

“It has been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included,” said Roland Swenson, chief executive officer and co-founder of SXSW. “When Jay Penske [chairman and CEO of Penske Media] approached us with an interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us.  Both of our companies share a passion for producing high-quality content that helps shape modern culture, so this feels like a natural alliance.”   

SXSW’s management team and core business will remain unchanged in keeping its focus on the March 2022 event in Austin, according to a statement. 

The festival was cancelled in March 2020 by the city of Austin due to the spread of COVID-19, the first time it was not held in 34 years. Shortly afterward, it laid off 175 year-round employees due to the financial strain. It was held virtually this year in a shorter format.

Explaining his plans for the popular festival, which draws more than 150,000 people to the city for performances, panels and branded events, Penske said: “As part of this significant investment, we plan to build upon SXSW’s incredible foundation while extending the platform further digitally and assisting Roland and his incredible team to bring their vision to even greater heights.” 

PMC joined forces with MRC in September to form P-MRC,  comprising Variety, Rolling Stone, Music Business Worldwide, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Vibe. PMC also owns Sourcing Journal and WWD, among others.