News December 7, 2021

Mushroom Group drops Harbour Agency after external investigation

Mushroom Group drops Harbour Agency after external investigation

Matt Gudinski’s Mushroom Group has distanced itself from prominent live booking business The Harbour Agency following an external investigation.

According to a report in The Australian by Andrew McMillen, the investigation relates to historical staff complaints about workplace culture.

In a statement issued exclusively to the paper on Tuesday, a Mushroom Group spokesperson confirmed that The Harbour Agency is no longer part of Mushroom Group.

In the statement, Mushroom Group said the booking agency has operated independently.

“Unlike all other Mushroom Group companies it has not shared HR, legal, finance or other group corporate services,” the spokesperson said.

“Recently several former Harbour Agency staff contacted Mushroom with historical allegations about management behaviour and workplace culture of the Harbour Agency.

“External investigators were appointed and the concerns raised were investigated, including via interviews with a number of former staff. The issues raised by the investigation have been taken seriously and are now being addressed by the directors of Harbour Agency.

“Mushroom doesn’t have a controlling shareholding in Harbour, nor input into the decision making process at Harbour. The findings of the investigation emphasised the lack of direct day to day visibility and influence we have over the running of the Harbour business.”

“At Mushroom, we take the creation of a positive and creative workplace culture seriously and, without the ability to influence the culture at Harbour, Mushroom has made the decision to formally separate the business from the group.”

The nature of the complaints about The Harbour Agency’s leadership remains “unclear”, according to McMillen who broke the story on Tuesday morning.

Mushroom Group’s Melbourne-based Premier Artists, remains with the company.

Gudinski assumed the role of CEO following the death of his father Michael, in March.

UPDATE:

The Harbour Agency has responded, saying its shareholders remain unchanged at present, despite Mushroom Group’s decision to separate the Harbour Agency from its group.

“Currently, the directors include original founding members, the Michael Gudinski Estate, Frank Stivala and Philip Jacobsen. The shareholders remain unchanged at present, despite the Mushroom Group’s decision to separate the Harbour Agency from its group of companies.

“The governance of the agency has remained under review with Mushroom not taking up a seat on the board since the passing of Michael Gudinski. During this time, the founding members Frank Stivala and Philip Jacobsen, along with the dedicated staff of the Harbour Agency have continued to provide a high level of service to our clients and the wider industry.”

“There have been suggestions of historical workplace culture issues within the Harbour Agency. The Harbour agency takes workplace culture very seriously. We are proud to promote an inclusive, culturally diverse and safe environment which nurtures the skills of budding industry leaders as well as extending these values to our clients and the industry as a whole. In effect, any previous issues within the Harbour Agency have been assessed and dealt with over a period of time as is consistent with our values.

“At no point during Mushroom’s external investigation were any current employees interviewed….had these accounts been included, the findings may have told a different story.

“The agency has remained fully operational over a very difficult period of time for the live music industry. We have stood unwavering, in our service to our employees, our client base and the wider community.

“Moving forward, The Harbour Agency will continue to operate independently. Whilst the company is being restructured, it will not preclude or prohibit our dealings with the many great companies within the Mushroom group.”

In the statement shared with TMN, Harbour Agency said it has not been sold, nor received offer, or is in the midst of seeking out potential buyers, adding that it is “business as usual”.

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