Madison Square Garden Buys Majority Stake in Nightlife Company TAO Group

Seth Browarnik
Nas performs at TAO Nightclub Sundance on Jan. 19, 2013 in New York City.

The Madison Square Garden Company has acquired a majority stake in nightclub and restaurant operator TAO Group, the companies announced on Wednesday. MSG paid $181 million for a 62.5 percent interest in the hospitality group, which operates 19 dining and nightlife venues in New York City, Las Vegas and Sydney. TAO co-founders Marc Packer, Rich Wolf, Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss keep the remaining 37.5 percent share.

“TAO Group is a unique and attractive business that furthers our focus on the ‘live experience’ while also exposing us to new areas of growth,” said James L. Dolan, the executive Chairman of MSG. “TAO Group is creating the most innovative premium experiences in the entertainment dining and hospitality industry — no one does it better. We now have a tremendous opportunity to utilize that expertise across our live offerings, while leveraging each other’s strengths to drive value and growth for both businesses.”

TAO operates several high-profile venue brands, including Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, The Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex and Vandal. It is also in expansion mode — the firm has several new venues lined up, including in new markets including Los Angeles, Chicago and Singapore. For MSG, stewards of Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Forum, among other storied properties, the partnership adds a proven hospitality and nightclub component to its live entertainment business.

In 2016, TAO Group generated revenue and operating income of $235 million and $43 million, respectively.

“Over the last 16 years, we’ve seen tremendous growth as we’ve successfully created some of the most enduring brands in the hospitality industry,” said Tao Group co-founder Rich Wolf. “Our partnership with MSG enables us to continue down this path as we advance our plans to build a global hospitality platform, now backed by an organisation with an unparalleled position as one of the world’s leading live entertainment companies.”