Steve Monnington, managing director, Mayfield Merger Strategies
The exhibition M&A world is still subdued and is likely to continue that way until we start to get some visibility around the re-opening of events. Lockdown 2.0 I the UK hasn’t helped this although the news about the various vaccines is encouraging – a single bright spot amongst the gloom.
I last reported on acquisitions in September and, since then, Clarion, Tarsus and Messe Frankfurt have all stepped up with transactions. By far the largest deal was the acquisition by Clarion of a majority stake in Quartz Events who produce invitation only executive summits in North America in 12 sectors ranging from Cybersecurity to Logistics, Procurement and Finance. The company is 13 years old and this was a transaction that should have happened earlier in the year but, like many others, was put on hold when COVID hit. The fact that it has happened now is testament to the management’s ability to pivot the business to digital, a move that has been so successful that the second half of 2020 looks like beating pre-COVID forecasts. The effect of the pandemic has also accelerated the development of an online club for C-level executives and all of this “non-live activity” should ensure that CEO Toby Harris and his team achieve a very healthy valuation once the earn-out unwinds.
Clarion already have an existing executive summit series MATCH so they already understand the operate the model successfully but there is also the opportunity for them to use the Quartz model to create additional executive summits in their other sectors using the Quartz model.
Another business that has continued to grow despite COVID is the U.S brand Masters of Pediatric Dermatology (MOPD) and Tarsus has added it to their medical portfolio which includes Cardiometabolic Health Congress (CMHC), A4M|MMI, Painweek and LivDerm. Like Quartz Events, the transaction was started pre-Covid but in this case continued through lockdown and, as with Quartz, the digital element was key to providing security of profits. MOPD takes place annually alongside the dermatology event South Beach Symposium which Tarsus acquired in 2014.
The importance in the development of the Tarsus medical business was further underlined with the acquisition of the remaining 50% of Hubei Tarsus Hope, their original entry point into China in 2008. The main shows are the Chengdu Dental Show and the biannual Zhengzhou Medical and Dental Show. China is one of the few territories which has successfully resumed live business events in recent months.
Hyve has sold their entire exhibition businesses in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan in line with their strategy of concentrating on market leading events. The events are not expected to resume for some time due to COVID-19.
The number of transactions involving Associations has been steadily increasing as I predicted a few months ago. In the USA, the Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA) has tied up with Messe Frankfurt to co-produce Process Expo, the largest horizontal trade show in the USA for the food and beverage processing and packaging sectors. Back in May the plan was for Frankfurt to manage the show but this has progressed into a new partnership agreement and will join a portfolio of six international trade shows in Germany, Argentina, Russia and Thailand.
The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) has agreed to acquire the Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA). Earlier this year the two organisations agreed a strategic alliance but, like the FPSA/Messe Frankfurt deal, it has quickly developed into something more formal.
Pageant Media, the UK-based financial information and events company has acquired Falk Marques Group, a US-based organiser of events for women in private equity and venture capital including the Women’s Private Equity Summit and the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit. Pageant, founded by Charlie Kerr, has a portfolio of Pension events for US investors and asset managers so the acquisition fits well in addition to being an interesting diversity play. In February this year, Pageant sold a majority stake to Intermediate Capital Group and subsequently acquired Eurekahedge, a hedge fund performance database, from Mizuho Bank in Japan.
Finally, we haven’t seen a transaction in Turkey for some time. Turkish organiser TG Expo has acquired 100% of Sectoral Fairs, organiser of ICCI – International Energy and Environment Fair and Conference, Back in 2014, Sectoral were acquired by Deutsche Messe subsidiary Hannover Fairs Turkey. This was at the time when local Turkish organisers were being snapped up by the international players. Hannover subsequently sold 50% of the business to energy exhibition media specialists PennWell. The 2020 edition was cancelled and held as a virtual event.