Europe dreams of an energy-efficient Christmas as lights go off early

Planet Business: Football clubs change ownership, Penguin pays up for abandoned merger and Ticketmaster enrages ticket buyers

Image of the week: Lighting up

Christmas market season has arrived across Europe, although this year the energy crisis means the festive glow has been dimmed somewhat.

In Paris, aka the City of Lights, the Comité des Champs-Elysées has knocked one week off the duration of its Christmas display and the energy-efficient lights will be turned off at 11.45pm instead of 2am. In Copenhagen, Danish authorities are aiming for 60 per cent lower energy consumption from its festive decorations, while in London, the Oxford Street lights will only be switched on from 3pm to 11pm, rather than staying on round the clock.

Dublin Town, the business group that provides the lights for Dublin city centre streets, has also gone with later start and earlier finish times this year.

Fewer lights are another option. Although the Christmas market in Römerberg, Frankfurt, (pictured) – one of the largest and oldest Christmas markets in Germany – looks bright enough to be seen from another galaxy, rest assured its tree, named “Manni”, is a lot smaller than usual, requiring fewer bulbs. Who needs Russian gas anyway?


In numbers: Turning the page

$2.2 billion

Value of the now abandoned merger (€2.1 billion) between the world’s largest publisher, Penguin Random House, and its US rival Simon & Schuster, another of publishing’s “big five”.


Share of the market for the anticipated top-selling books that a combined Penguin and Simon & Schuster would have held. A US judge blocked the proposed deal late last month – to the delight of horror author and antitrust case witness Stephen King.

$200 million

Termination fee that Penguin owner Bertelsmann will now pay Simon & Schuster owner Paramount Global, having failed to persuade it to appeal the ruling. That’s a lot of celebrity cookbook advances all the same.

Getting to know: Michael Rapino

Live Nation Entertainment chief executive Michael Rapino has done what no one should ever do: incurred the wrath of Swifties. Bad blood has arisen because, although there was a corporate apology, the man who oversees Ticketmaster hasn’t come across as overly repentant thus far in the wake of the chaotic pre-sale and cancelled general sale of tickets for Taylor Swift’s US tour Eras. “Slowdowns” in the sale were the fault of fans – including some without invitations (purchase codes) – who all “crashed” its party at the same time, according to the Canadian-American, whose Twitter account has been busy liking tweets that pin the fiasco on Swift being just too popular and others that lay the blame for high concert ticket prices firmly at the door of artists.

Swift, for her part, dubbed the pre-sale “excruciating” to watch and said she had been assured that Ticketmaster could handle the demand. The fallout has redirected the political spotlight back to the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster and a US Senate antitrust panel is now gearing up for a hearing, to which both Rapino and Swift will doubtlessly be invited. Nobody’s shaking this one off just yet.

The list: Completed passes

In bittersweet news for makers of “Glazers Out” banners, the American family has confirmed it is exploring a sale of Manchester United. The move follows Fenway Sports Group’s decision to seek a buyer for Liverpool and reports that Qatari-backed Paris Saint-Germain could offload a minority stake in the French side. But which European football clubs have been on the market in 2023?

1. Chelsea: US investor Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital acquired the club in May after previous owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned for hanging out too much with Vladimir Putin.

2. SC Braga: Qatar Sports Investments, the owner of PSG, has bought a 22 per cent stake in this Portuguese club, with Liga Portugal now a hot target for football investors.

3. Sporting Gijón: Grupo Orlegi, a Mexican group founded by a former metals trader, bought the second-division Spanish side in June.

4. Vitesse Arnhem: The Dutch club, like Chelsea, changed hands in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with US firm Common Group acquiring it from oligarch Valeriy Oyf. He wasn’t too happy about having to sell, but there you go.

5. Standard Liège: In another example of American interest in European soccer, the Belgian side was sold by Liège-born businessman Bruno Venanzi to portfolio-building US private investment firm 777 Partners. A “return to its glory of yesteryear” was promised.