Dealmakers Expert OpinionFeaturesWorld

Steve Monnington, managing director of Mayfield Media Strategies, writes about ‘Dealmakers’ in the latest edition of Exhibition World (Issue 2 | 2018).

In my last column I looked at the upcoming acquisition of UBM by Informa which, if shareholders approve it, means that the resulting business will be the world’s largest exhibition organiser. It’s likely to happen by the middle of this year.

Ascential are moving the other way. They unveiled their 2017 results at the end of February and, at the same time, announced a “strategic review” of most of their exhibition business, predicated on maintaining brands that are aligned to the digital economy. Included in the review are most of the UK shows Spring and Autumn Fair (Gifts), Pure (Fashion), BETT (education) together with CWIEME (Coil Winding) which takes place in Germany, USA and China. The relevant shows account for £78m (US$110.5m)of revenue and, as this sort of announcement usually precedes a sale, we can expect to see one within a few months.

One would assume that they will aim to sell the business as a single unit but it won’t be without it’s challenges. BETT is the star of the portfolio under review with a successful geoclone program resulting in an 11 per cent increase in revenue from 2016 to 2017. It will be harder to attract interest for Spring/Autumn Fair (revenue decrease of 2%), and Pure (down 3%). UK Retail sector exhibitions are having a hard time right now and the fact that they represent 55 per cent of the total revenue will make a sale of the overall portfolio at a decent multiple quite difficult.

The review excludes Money 20/20 and Cannes Lions and follows on from the sale of 11 UK-based “heritage brands” – those associated with the original EMAP brand such as Drapers, Nursing Times and Construction News to publishing group Metropolis for £23.5m in June last year.

Messe Frankfurt continue their run of acquisitions which are diverse both in sector and geography. They made three acquisitions in the period in Thailand, Dubai and UK, the last being the purchase of their own Automechanika previously run under license. This is their first move into the UK but it seems like a bit of housekeeping rather than a new geographical strategy.

Telegraph Events have sold a number of their consumer exhibitions. The London Bike Show and Triathlon Show are the subject of a management buyout led by Frazer Clifford under his new company Newtimber Media while Be:Fit, the UK’s largest and leading fitness and wellbeing festival for women and Salon QP, the luxury watch fair, have been sold to publishing group Hearst UK, who have a number of magazine brands focused on health and wellness and the luxury market. The sale leaves the Telegraph’s consumer events division with just the Ski & Snowboard show and the Telegraph Travel show.

Sarah Picton