The Dealmaker in January

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

 

In last month’s column, I talked about the speculation that UBM would acquire Allworld for around US$400m (approx. £316m). It turns out that UBM are the successful bidder, but because of the high level of interest from both trade organisers and private equity firms, they had to pay $485m, making this by far the largest deal ever done in Asia.


Allworld organises quite a few biennial shows and its Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) for 2016 is $37.1m, so it’s hard to get a handle on the real multiple. If we take the average 2015 and 2016 EBIT of $33m, it implies a multiple of 14.7x. A hefty price to pay, but a unique opportunity to acquire the largest independent organiser in the region.


Most high value deals are for businesses which themselves have been created through a series of acquisitions, but Allworld is unique in that it is entirely organically grown by entrepreneurs. Their key sectors include Food & Hospitality, Packaging & Plastics and Oil & Gas, and unsurprisingly there are several areas of overlap, particularly in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and China, where the two companies have been in competition. The integration and rationalisation process will be fascinating to watch.

Priority markets

Tarsus also spent a lot of money this month in both of their priority markets – USA and China. In China they acquired 50 per cent of Shanghai Intex Exhibition Co and became joint venture partners with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), who own the other 50 per cent. Intex runs a portfolio of shows including CES Asia (Consumer Electronics) and Music China. This acquisition, which Tarsus MD Douglas Emslie first started looking at 10 years ago, means that Tarsus now have four 50/50 joint ventures in China.


Their US acquisition is an 80 per cent stake in Connect Meetings for up to $57m, representing their largest deal ever and one which will be partially funded by a placing of new shares. Connect is a leading US business travel and meetings event company with 13 events in the US.


Their main event is Connect Marketplace, which will take place in New Orleans this year. Tarsus has a number of assets related to the meetings sector, including TSNN and the joint venture with DMEI. One of the drivers for the acquisition is that Connect is entirely transactional (hosted buyers and venues) and is seen by Tarsus as the model for the future, and applicable to many sectors.

Part of the furniture

There were also several UK deals this month. Clarion Events acquired 100 per cent of the Furniture shows held in Birmingham (January) and Manchester (July). Founders Laraine Janes and Theresa Raymond will continue to run the shows, which now join Home & Gift and Top Drawer in Clarion’s retail portfolio.


Upper Street Events has acquired 100 per cent of Escape Events from Martin Anslow. The portfolio of shows includes the Cruise Shows in London, Birmingham and Glasgow, in partnership with the Daily Mail and the Adventure Travel Show. It has been two years since Living Bridge backed the Upper Street management buyout and this is the first acquisition for them.


Reed acquired Imbibe Media, a UK-based B2B media business for the on-trade drinks industry. The business is a combination of media platforms, wine tastings, wine awards and Imbibe Live, Europe’s largest on-trade drinks exhibition held at Olympia. At first sight, the acquisition seems a bit leftfield for Reed but last year they acquired the German on-trade drinks event Bar Convent Berlin.


In the USA, Emerald Exhibitions continued their acquisition spree with the purchase of RFID Journal Live Conference and Expo. The show, which focuses on radio frequency identification (RFID), will next take place in May 2017 in Phoenix Arizona.


Up until now, the only organiser acquiring in South Korea has been Reed Exhibitions, who took a share in KorMarine in 2014 and followed this up recently with another four events in Electronic Manufacturing and Home Deco. Now, UBM has decided to enter the market with the acquisition of a majority stake in SECON, South Korea’s leading security industry tradeshow held in Seoul.


Easyfairs rounds off this month’s activity with the acquisition of Pentawards, the most prestigious worldwide competition for packaging design. The awards, which has 55 categories and has been running for 10 years, took place in Shanghai in 2016 and will move to Barcelona next year. It complements Easyfairs’ existing global portfolio of packaging events that run across Europe and North America, including Packaging Innovations, Luxury Packaging, Label&Print and Empack.

Steve Monnington
Posted by Steve Monnington
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