Grupo Empresas Matutes, also owners of the Palladium Hotel Group which counts spots such as Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza among its chain of resorts, has purchased shares owned by José María Etxaniz of the company Balantxa S.A to take full control of the legendary White Isle nightspot.
In a statement sent to Mixmag, a representative for GEM confirmed: “After many years of litigation, Bahía de San Antonio S.A has acquired the shares owned by José María Etxaniz of the company Baltanxa S.A, owner of Privilege, within a judicial process.”
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While the amount hasn’t been disclosed, Bahía de San Antonio S.A is estimated to have paid €20 million for the 55% of shares owned by Etxaniz, as reported by Diario de Ibiza.
This figure was set by an independent auditor, and is reportedly close to the amount Etxaniz requested from Bahía de San Antonio S.A to purchase his 55% stake in 2018.
Etxaniz and GEM have been locked in a legal dispute over the sale since 2018.
Etxaniz has been critical of beach clubs such as Ushuaïa, owned by GEM, blaming them for harming the island’s clubbing businesses and causing DJ fees to rocket.
Speaking to Noudiari earlier this year, he said: “They will end up closing all the nightclubs, from Amnesia to Pachá, because every corner of this island is a nightclub.”
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Etxaniz brought a legal case against Grupo Empresas Matutes alleging that Ushuaïa exercises unfair competition on Privilege, claiming that it operates like a nightclub without having to comply with the licensing rules that regulate nightclubs.
The High Court of Justice of the Balearic Islands (TSJB) rejected the argument, ruling that it is “irrelevant” that some consider Ushuaïa to be a nightclub, and its license as a hotel establishment and venue with outdoor musical performances is “not controversial”.
Etxaniz had operated Privilege as the majority shareholder since 1995, changing its name from former incarnation KU Club, as it had been known from 1979.
Now Etxaniz’s 55% stake in Privilege has been sold to Grupo Empresas Matutes, through Bahía de San Antonio S.A, whose own stake has grown from 45% to full control.
The company would not comment further on plans for the nightclub, which was crowned as the largest nightclub in the world by the Guinness World Records in 2000 with a record capacity of 10,000, although it has been confirmed it will not be open for the 2022 season.
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Periódico de Ibiza reports that the night club has fallen into a state of disrepair, “because, after two years closed and without maintenance, the premises need conditioning.”
Images published in British tabloid The Daily Mail show the site looking rundown, with peeling paint, rusting metal and overgrown shrubbery.
Privilege's license was suspended in 2018 after an inspection revealed that the club illegally modified its architecture to increase capacity. For the 2019 season, the last time the club was open, it was forced to be partially closed with multiple sections of the venue deemed unsafe closed off.
Whether the iconic nightclub will return to its formerly glory for 2023 or if other plans are afoot for the building remains to be seen.
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Editor, follow him on Twitter