Steve Monnington: The Dealmaker in March

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

The waiting is over and the decision is an IPO. After several months of discussions with a number of private equity houses, i2i Events parent company, Ascential (recently renamed from Top Right Group) opted for a stock market flotation. The company has floated at £2 a share giving it a market cap of around £800m.


Guardian Media Group, which owns around a third of the business, and Apax, who own two thirds, bought the business in 2007 for around £1bn. They will sell a 25 per cent stake in the company raising £200m. This follows many months of negotiations with a number of private equity funds in a parallel process to the flotation discussions.


After a flurry of private equity deals involving the NEC, CloserStill Media, Clarion, Upper Street Events and Comexposium, Ascential was seen as the last big chance for private equity firms to gain a foothold in the exhibition sector but it was not to be.


On a slightly smaller scale, River Street Live, part of River Street Media acquired Intuitive Events, organiser of The Fertility Show. This is the first acquisition by River Street since the buyout from Haymarket in 2013. The Fertility Show was launched by Jonathan Scott who previously created The Language Show and Move It - Dance London, which he sold to Upper Street Events in 2008.

 

Gaming market


Clarion Events added to its gaming portfolio with the acquisition of 75 per cent of iGaming Business, producer of events, magazines and intelligence reports for the gaming industry. The two companies previously worked closely together in the gaming sector and this is the 10th acquisition made by Clarion since Providence Equity replaced VSS as private equity partner 13 months ago.


ITE made their second acquisition in China, buying a 70 per cent stake in the Fastener Expos in Shanghai and Guangzhou. In 2013 ITE created Sinostar ITE, a 50/50 joint venture with Hong Kong based Worldcoat Exhibition for two exhibitions - ChinaCoat and SFChina (surface finishing). The fastener industry is a key customer to the surface finishing technology sector, which convenes at the SF China exhibition.


While ITE have been busy focusing their business away from Russia, Reed Exhibitions decided to go the other way, acquiring REX in Moscow, the leading property trade show in Russia. The show will join Reed MIDEM’s Real Estate division.

 

Below the radar

 

Artexis Easyfairs continued its below the radar acquisition spree and entered the French market with the purchase of Oriex, organisers of the ADF & PCD (Aerosol & Dispensing Forum and Packaging Perfumes, Cosmetics & Design) events. They join Easyfairs’ portfolio of 32 packaging events across 11 countries.


Over in the USA, private equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners acquired Marketplace Events, organiser of 44 home and garden shows in the USA and Canada. Marketplace was formed in 2008 and was formerly DMG’s North American home show division.


Finally, last month I reported on the co-operation between UBM and Alibaba for a number of UBM’s shows in Hong Kong and China. It didn’t take long for Hannover Milano Fairs China to follow suit. The tie up will provide Chinese exhibitors at a number of Deutsche Messe’s shows, including Domotex, CeBIT and Hannover Messe with credit guarantee services, improving the competitiveness of Chinese products.


Who will Alibaba tie up with next?

Steve Monnington
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