Steve Monnington of Mayfield Media Strategies runs the rule over the latest global exhibition deals.
Not much actual acquisition activity this month, but some big news all the same.
Over the last few months I have been drawing comparisons between Emerald Expositions and Clarion Events, in particular their frenetic acquisition activity. Last month I reported that Emerald, having initially put the business up for sale with a $2bn (£1.55bn) price tag, opted for a U.S stock market launch (IPO) and I speculated that we should expect a sale process for Clarion to follow.
Well, we didn’t have to wait very long to hear that Providence Equity, who acquired Clarion in January 2015, have appointed HSBC as sale advisors. Since Clarion effected an MBO from Earls Court and Olympia, they have been owned by a succession of private equity firms and the most likely scenario is another private equity buyer, rather than a sale to an exhibition organiser.
In other corporate finance news, B2B information company Incisive Media has been acquired by its founder and chairman Tim Weller, chief financial officer Jamie Campbell-Harris, and chief executive Jonathon Whiteley. Incisive is best known for its ownership of Investment Week and Professionals Pensions but it also holds a number of conferences and awards across the three main divisions – Enterprise Technology, Pensions & Benefits and Investment Wealth. Incisive was founded by Weller in 1994 and was subsequently listed on the UK stock exchange. After a number of restructures they have been majority owned most recently by private equity firm Alchemy Partners.
Swiss-based MCH Group, responsible for the exhibition centres in Basel and Zurich and owners of Art Basel, which runs in Basel, Hong Kong and Miami, have made their largest acquisition to date, acquiring live marketing company MC2 in the USA. MC2 employs more than 350 employees at 15 locations in the USA as well as having an office in Dusseldorf and, among other things, provides customised installations at exhibitions for the likes of Samsung, Toyota and Canon. They join MCH’s Live Marketing Solutions department.
Jordan Edmiston, aka JEGI, the leading M&A broker for media companies in the USA, has strengthened its team with the appointment of Kathleen Thomas as managing director. She was previously head of media and marketing services at Berkery Noyes. JEGI are the go-to brokers for the high value exhibition transactions in the USA and this move will only serve to strengthen their grip.
Finally, an interesting initiative on behalf of the global exhibition organisers. The Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO) in the UK and the Society of Independent Show Organisers (SISO) in the USA have teamed up together to create the Independent Organiser Network (ION). The formation of ION is in recognition of the increasing global nature of the commercial ‘pure play’ exhibition organisers, who are predominantly based in the USA and UK, and who have been seeking a forum to establish best practice in the exhibition sector in order to improve exhibitor experience at trade shows.
It may have been a quiet month in M&A land but it’s a temporary lull. There are many deals in the pipeline that will come to fruition over the next few months and I will be bringing you the lowdown on these when they happen.