Says group “is in good shape!”

Anderson denies ABBA rumors: Anderson denies ABBA is in financial trouble. By Mike Hennessey

Stockholm

ABBA manager Stig Anderson describes as “irresponsible and ill-informed” a rash of stories in the European press saying that he and the group are in serious financial difficulties and that ABBA has definitely disbanded.

“ABBA is in good shape and our financial investments are sound. The group is worth about $US75 million and will certainly be recording again,” Anderson says.

Conjectural stories alleging that the Anderson/ABBA empire was in ruins and that the whole enterprise was facing bankruptcy first appeared in the Swedish papers following suspension by the Stockholm Stock Exchange of trading in the company Kuben AB, in which Anderson and ABBA have a 20% stake.

Says Anderson: “There were problems with Kuben because the company was borrowing money at high interest rates to buy up other enterprises. However, the problems have been resolved, a new president has been appointed and, in any case, it represents only a small part of our investment portfolio.”

Kuben AB was originally 100% owned by Polar Music Invest, the holding company of the Anderson/ABBA empire, but 70% of PMI was sold off last October, 1982. Anderson and ABBA also have a 40% interest in Stockholms Badhus, a real estate company worth $US100 million, and in Infina, a leasing company; Monark, a cycle manufacturer, and Stiga, which makes lawnmowers.

Anderson admits that he and the group lost more than $US5 million in speculative dealings in the oil spot market. But he says this is insignificant set against ABBA’s turnover from record sales, films and personal appearances over the years, which he estimates at $US150 million. And he dismisses as “ludicrous” and “pure invention” press stories that ABBA had suffered huge losses by doing barter deals with East European companies and accepting payment in Russian oil and Polish coal and potatoes.

“I did consider barter deals at one time,” Anderson says. “But the commodities I was offered could not have been sold in Western countries, so I abandoned the idea. Instead we got paid in Western currency by countries like Poland in return for giving them the rights to press a certain number of ABBA albums.”

On the question of the future of ABBA as a group, Anderson insists that they will continue to work together and will be recording a new album for release before Christmas next year. “The reason they are not together at present is that Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson are completing work on a musical called Chess with Tim Rice, Agnetha Fältskog is promoting Wrap Your Arms Around Me with press interviews and television appearances, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad is preparing a new album to be produced in Paris possibly by Phil Collins.”

Anderson says that Björn and Benny have written more songs that can be used in the musical, and these will form the basis of the new ABBA album, to be released in the fall of 1984. The musical Chess will be premiered in London in May, 1985. This November, Ulvaeus and Andersson will be in Polar Music Studios in Stockholm to record a double album of the score. Singers are currently being selected, and the album will be released next August, 1984.

“In the meantime, there may be a couple of singles from “ABBA,” says Anderson. “We haven’t yet decided how the musical will be cast, but we are sending out letters to major record companies in the U.S. and U.K. to get their reactions.”

Another project involving ABBA songs is a musical called Abbacadabra, which will be staged at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, West London, for eight weeks beginning in mid-December. New lyrics are being written by Duncan Wood and Mike Batt, and Batt is recording an EP of some of the material for November, 1983 release.

Anderson says he believes much of the speculation about the break-up of ABBA was triggered when Anni-Frid Lyngstad decided to move to London and sold her shares in the financial empire for around $US1.2 million. “The only reason Anni-Frid sold out,” he explains,” was because she had to under Swedish law.”

There’s a hiatus at the moment because the members of the group are all doing different things,” Anderson continues. “But they’ll be back together. They’re still the best of friends, and the girls have a great respect for the musical creativity of Björn and Benny. As soon as they get back into the studio together, the old electricity will start to flow again.”Transcribed for ABBA World

Billboard (USA) · 1 October 1983 (Pages 9 & 57)


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