Hakkasan Ponies Up Nearly $40M to Get Past Light Group’s Velvet Ropes

Illustration by Cierra Pedro

Illustration by Cierra Pedro

If Google can scoop up YouTube and Facebook can gobble Instagram, then what the hell: Let’s get some good, old-fashioned consolidation going on in the nightclub game.

In a move that radically alters our delicate nightlife ecosystem like flocks of starling released into Central Park, Hakkasan Group has acquired the Light Group for $36 million. (Back in 2011, Morgans Hotel Group bought a 90 percent stake in Light Group for $46.5 million; the deal between Morgans and Hakkasan includes the remaining 10 percent held by Light Group founders Andy Masi and Andrew Sasson.)

The move makes Hakkasan the undisputed behemoth of the local nightlife scene—though Morgans will take over Light’s holdings in Miami at the Delano. Morgan’s also remains the leaseholder in three Mandalay Bay restaurants (Kumi, Red Square and Citizens Kitchen). Hakkasan Group is heavily invested in the restaurant game after acquiring San Diego’s Enlightened Hospitality Group in January. After the Hakkasan deal is finalized, which is expected to be in January, Morgans will have up to 18 months to repurchase a minority stake in Light Group.

So for those keeping score, once the deal goes through Hakkasan will control its eponymous flagship at MGM, as well as Omnia (set to open at Caesars Palace in 2015), 1 Oak, The Bank, Gold Lounge, Revolution, Lily, Alibi, Deuce Lounge, Bare, Liquid, Wet Republic, Social House, Seersucker, Citizens Kitchen, Hearthstone, Diablo’s Cantina, Fix, Kumi, Red Square and Stack. And that’s not even counting what becomes of the under-renovation Haze.

If you think that sounds like Hakkasan is running some Standard Oil kind of game, it could have been even bigger: Hakkasan also approached Tao Group about a takeover, but the discussion didn’t end up going anywhere, according to a report in Forbes. But considering this is the second year in a row Hakkasan has had a big, splashy acquisition around this time, CEO Neil Moffit’s Christmas gift in 2015 could be a gift-wrapped Marquee or XS. Does Drai’s come in his size?

Of course, Hakkasan now has the leverage in negotiating with DJs. Which means maybe this deal is just part of saving some money down the road. Because they definitely bestowed a chunk of treasure on Calvin Harris, who made $66 million last year, making him the ninth highest-paid musician of 2014. Harris made more money than Rihanna, whose songs he produced to help him hit that mark.

Maybe that’s the benefit to being utterly uncontroversial. Deadmau5 isn’t on the highest-paid list, even though he’s infinitely more entertaining. Like when he got into a spitting match with the girls from Krewella, sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf. After Jahan wrote an op-ed for Billboard about sexism in the music industry—and about the reactions to the sisters’ lawsuit against Krewella co-founder Kris Trindl—Deadmau5 blasted her on Twitter. Among other gems: “It has nothing to do with you being a woman, it has everything to do with you sucking at music. I’m an equal sex hater”; and “My favorite female DJ of all time is me … in a dress.” That stampede you heard was a thousand dudes rushing to complete their 2015 Halloween costumes with recycled Deadmau5 heads from their 2012 costumes.

The flip side to all that money in the club system is that XS and Tryst did their annual employee toy run on behalf of the Chet Buchanan & The Morning Zoo Toy Drive. Employees raided a local Walmart on December 10 and emerged with enough loot to fill 12 tractor-trailers. The haul amounted to a donation of $195,000—or about the cost of Hakkasan’s business-card rebranding budget after picking up all those clubs and restaurants.

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