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The Dealmaker

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Steve Monnington of Mayfield Media Strategies runs the rule over the latest global exhibition deals.

M&A transactions continue to be almost non-existent as buyers are reluctant to take a chance on when exhibitions will take place and, when they do, how affected they will be by continuing restrictions on international travel.

In the six month period March to August last year there were 37 transactions. In the same period this year, there were just nine and with a number of deals on hold since March, we can expect a resurgence of transactions once confidence returns.

I covered some of these in my July column but there are three additional ones to report on.

U.S publisher and organiser Allured Business Media (ABM) has acquired publishing house Creative Age, expanding its portfolio of professional beauty shows, plus salon and spa media brands.

Creative Age runs NAILPRO exhibitions, competitions and networking events along with several magazines including DAYSPA, MedEsthetics and Beauty Store Business. Events organised by ABM include Face and Body Spa conference& Expo and the World Perfumery Congress.

Messe Munich, organiser of the world leading construction fair Bau, has acquired Glasstech Asia and Fenestration Asia from Singapore base organiser, CEMS with the 2020 edition scheduled in Bangkok.

At the same time, Messe Munich has reached a strategic agreement with the China National Building Waterproof Association for the integration of its China Roofing and Waterproofing Expo into Bau China, scheduled for the end of October this year in Beijing.

The Italian Exhibition Group (IEG) was formed in October 2016 when Rimini Fiera and Fiera di Vicenza merged to create the largest Italian organiser in terms of directly organised exhibitions.

Since then, it has expanded, forming agreements with Arezzo Fiere for its jewellery shows as well as joint ventures with local organisers in the USA, UAE and China. Now it has acquired Dubai based HBG Events, organiser of the Dubai Muscle Show and Dubai Active in a deal structure that includes an extended earn-out to 2022, underlining buyers concerns about the rate of recovery for exhibitions.

There will be other acquisitions as a direct consequence of Covid. A good example of this is the plans to sell the Geneva International Motor Show to Palexpo, the owner of the venue where it takes place.

This is the largest event in Switzerland, regularly attracting more than half a million visitors. The 2020 edition was due to take place in February but was cancelled at short notice as coronavirus started to take hold.

Salon International de I’Automobile the current owner decided to cancel the 2021 show amid weak support from car brands. The organiser asked the Canton of Geneva for financial support to help cover the losses but was only offered a loan with repayment dates that didn’t help them and with the requirement that a 2021 edition was held. The loan was rejected and sale discussions were triggered.

With most acquisitions on hold, thoughts have turned to strategic alliances. As with acquisitions, some would have happened in normal times.

IEG’s announcement of a possible integration with Bologna Fiere is a clear strategic move as is Media 10’s new joint venture with Dreampix Guangzhou to create the ChuMan festivals – a series of live events across major cities in China for manga fans.

Others, such as the investment into MCH Group by Lupa Systems, founded by James Murdoch has been driven by MCH’s need to strengthen its capital structure and shareholder base in order to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

The strategic partnership between Germany’s DMEXCO@home and the UK’s MAD//Fest will be 2020’s largest virtual event for the media and marketing industry. I’m sure we will see many more of these as the year progresses.

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