Money, money, money: Abba’s Benny and Björn share in £900,000 payout | Abba

Abba stars Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus have shared in a dividend of nearly £1m after a surge in profits at the production company behind the Mamma Mia! stage musical and film adaptations.

The Swedish music legends received the payout after a blockbuster year for Littlestar Services, the licensing and production company behind the musical based on the pop group’s hits.

Littlestar paid out a £900,000 dividend to companies controlled by the pair, and its co-founder Judy Craymer, the show’s producer.

Andersson and Ulvaeus have successfully continued to reap revenues from Abba’s output since forming the group with Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad in 1972.

Abba’s back catalogue, including international hits such as Dancing Queen, Fernando and Take a Chance on Me, has spawned various spin-off projects ranging from films to books and theatre productions.

Alongside the dividend, the musicians and Craymer – and companies they control – received total fees of £5.7m from Littlestar, up from £3.8m in 2022. This included income from productions and music royalties.

In April, the Mamma Mia! musical, staged at the Novello theatre and centred on Abba songs, will mark its 25th year since its world premiere in London.

Littlestar recorded a step up in revenues to £12.8m in the year to 31 March 2023, from £7.7m a year earlier. Pre-tax profits for 2023 hit £2.5m, up from £316,000 the previous year, which was affected by the tail end of pandemic restrictions on live performances. The company did not pay a dividend in 2022.

Littlestar’s directors said it had been a “very successful” year, aided by an increase in income from productions around the world, including in Europe, Australia and the US.

The company receives revenues both from shows that completely recreate the original Mamma Mia! musical’s design and choreography in a local language, as well as reworked amateur and professional versions.

The directors said, however, that they expected the next year to produce similar but slightly reduced results, due to an increase in costs

Mamma Mia! debuted on stage in the West End of London in 1999 and has been seen in 440 cities by more than 65 million people. Set on a Greek island, it tells the story of a bride-to-be who wants to know which of her mother’s three former boyfriends is her father.

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It was made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan which premiered in 2008, with a sequel featuring Cher, Meryl Streep and Colin Firth released in 2018.

Ulvaeus, 77, is estimated to have a personal wealth of about $300m (£235m) and Andersson, 76, more than $200m.

In 2021, Littlestar faced scrutiny when HMRC documents showed that it and a sister company had received £50,000 each to furlough staff, despite the wealth of its founders. Littlestar said at the time that employees of its UK theatrical productions had been furloughed to “keep them employed as long as possible” and it did not repay the money.

The band’s commercial efforts also include the Abba Voyage concert, which is not part of Littlestar and has been praised by fans, staged in a purpose-built arena with digital avatars of the band recreating their appearances in their 1970s and 1980s heyday.


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