Penske Media Corp. — the publisher of titles including Rolling Stone, Billboard and Variety — has struck a deal for a 50 percent stake in South by Southwest, according to a report on Sunday.

The deal will give the popular Texas tech, movie and music festival a “lifeline” amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“It’s been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included,” the event’s chief executive and co-founder, Roland Swenson, said in a statement.

“When [Penske founder] Jay Penske came to us with interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us.”

The festival was dealt a financial blow after Austin officials canceled it last March over COVID-19 fears. SXSW laid off a third of its 175 year-round employees last summer, the report said.

This year, organizers said they would be going virtual-only, with the hopes of bringing the event back in person in 2022.

SXSW’s founders, who launched the festival in 1987, will continue to manage and operate the event, according to the Journal.

But Penske, the digital media company founded in 2004 by racing scion Jay Penske, will reportedly own the largest stake.



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