Steve Monnington of Mayfield Media Strategies runs the rule over the latest global exhibition deals.
In this column a couple of months ago, I covered the potential sale of Emerald Expositions and the US$2bn (approx £1.5bn) price tag that owners Onex had put on the business. At the time, I commented that either a sale to another private equity firm or a stock market flotation (IPO) were the most likely outcomes.
It seems that, with $323.7m of revenue, $22.2m of net income, and $63.6m of adjusted net income, none of the potential buyers were willing to meet the valuation. So in a change of approach, Emerald has now filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to raise an estimated $250m in an IPO.
Emerald was formed in June 2013 when Onex bought Nielsen Expositions for $950m and renamed it Emerald Expositions. Since then, Emerald has made a lot of acquisitions including George Little Management for $335m, National Pavement Expo, American Craft Retailers Expo and RFID Journal LIVE!
They kept up the acquisition pace this month, buying InterDrone, the International Drone Conference and Exposition, the largest commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) trade show and conference in North America. This is an early stage exit for founders BZ Media, who launched the show in 2015.
I have previously mentioned the parallels between Emerald and Clarion in terms of private equity buy-in and subsequent frenetic acquisition activity. In Emerald’s case, this has culminated in an attempted sale and an IPO as an alternative. Clarion shouldn’t be far behind, but in their case it is more likely to be a sale by current owner Providence to another private equity firm.
Staying in the US
Northstar Travel Group has acquired TEAMS Conference + Expo, MeetingsQuest and a number of publications for the meetings sector from Schneider Publishing. TEAMS is aimed at sports-event organisers and the destinations and hoteliers who serve them, while Meetings Quest focuses on meeting planners and their suppliers.
Centaur Media has announced plans to sell its B2C Home Interest division comprising seven exhibitions, print and digital. The exhibitions, which account for 50 per cent of the revenue, are primarily Home Building and Renovation shows held in Birmingham, Harrogate, Sandown Park, Bath and Glasgow. The overall division has revenues of £12.9m and Earnings Before Interest and Tax of £4.9m.
In last month’s column, I covered the management buyout of UBM’s Ecobuild. This month we have another unfortunate example of when M&A goes wrong.
In 2013, Fiera Milano International paid €7.5m for 75 per cent of Worldex, a Chinese organiser running a portfolio of shows in the agrifood and hospitality sectors.
Now, in a change of strategy, they have exited the investment by selling their stake to Singex, the in-house organiser of Singapore Expo for €2.75m, thus realising a capital loss of €4.75m.
And now we turn to venues and the sale of the Olympia Exhibition Centre, to a consortium German institutional investors and Yoo Capital for £296m. When rumours of a sale surfaced, it was widely feared that Olympia would go the same way as Earls Court, but concerns seem to have calmed down, at least for now.
On the technology side of the industry, GES have followed up their 2014 acquisition of N200 with another buy for their event intelligence division.
Poken uses smart badges for digital document collection, visitor-to-visitor engagement and full metrics reporting.
The two companies have had a strategic partnership for some time and the acquisition of Poken was a logical step.