Excel London borrows a further Â£220m in diversification drive
23-Jul-10by Annie Byrne
Excel London CEO Kevin Murphy says the venue has borrowed a further £220m from its Abu Dhabi owners to help accommodate a new Olympic festival with extensive venue development and a new hotel.Speaking at the recent ESSA G50 Summit, Murphy drew attention to the venue’s drive into alternative event areas as a way of getting a guaranteed return on its space, telling attendees he had grown Excel's take in the “exponentially bigger” events market four-fold in five years.“We’ve now taken on £165m, as well as another £55m to build our own hotel,” he said, confirming the venue has paid off an earlier £200m loan, used partly to fund the recently launched ICC. “We are sustaining these loans by diversifying our business. We are a commercial standalone business, and we need go out and chase it.“Don’t be under any illusion, there’s no golden tap sitting in my office,” he said.Among Excel’s new projects is a series of major festivals, including an Olympic festival to accompany the 2012 event, as well as river and sea festivals.Murphy also added that he was instrumental in the AEV converting its name to the Association of Event Venues from its original moniker; the Association of Exhibition Venues.“I said that unless the AEV changed its title to the association of event venues, I refused to join. Because we are not an exhibition venue, and you are not exhibition contractors,“ he told attendees, “and if you are, you’ve not got a very bright future.”Other key events Excel has engaged to diversify its portfolio include religious groups, cultural sector events, national association meetings and corporate launches. “Toyota is one of our biggest spenders,” said Murphy.Transport for London is also hoping to construct a cable-car between Excel and The O2 on the other side of the Thames.