Emap chief looks for increase in visitors to Spring Fair

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Emap chief executive David Gilbertson tells EN he is expecting an increase in visitor numbers to Spring Fair 2010 which, he says, “is booking extremely well”.Despite Emap recently admitting a “significant doubt” over its finances should renegotiations on bank borrowing covenants stall, Gilbertson says exhibitions and conferences, part of the Emap Connect division, were “well placed with resilience in the portfolio”.Analysts have estimated Emap borrowings stand at £700 million.Private equity company Apax, joint owner (along with Guardian Media Group) wrote down the value of its investment in the group in March 2009 to zero, having bought Emap in March 2008 with GMG for £1 billion.Accounts for Emap released in September for the year to March 31 showed that Eden Bidco, Emap’s parent company, would risk breaching covenants if Emap’s profits fall “materially below the level seen in the first half of 2009”.Gilbertson tells EN, however,  the business is “comfortably trading within its banking covenants”, pointing out that Emap had earned £42 million in the six months to September 30, down just three per cent from last year.Gilberston picks out education and technology as particularly well performing parts of the Emap Connect portfolio, with 2010 editions of its Pure and BETT growing and more visitors expected at the 2010 Spring Fair.On the conference side, healthcare services had provided good results, said Gilbertson, with “softer tones” set in the construction conferences, while media was proving a tough sector for conferences. “It is,” says Gilbertson, a “mixed picture”.Emap has begun charging for access to its magazine websites.Another major publishing and event organiser Informa, meanwhile, issued a trading statement, 15 December, ahead of entering its close period on 1 January.The group “confirms that it continues to trade in line with management expectations for the full year ending 31 December 2009”. Full year results will be released on 2 March 2010.
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