Private equity company Blackstone has announced the acquisition of the UK’s NEC Group – encompassing the NEC, Resorts World Arena, ICC Birmingham, The Ticket Factory and more –from the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group (known as LDC) in a deal worth a reported £800m.
LDC originally backed a management buyout of the Group from Birmingham City Council in 2015 for £307m. Since then, it has supported a four-year transformation programme to enhance sites, facilities and customer experience and broaden the range of events across the Group’s portfolio, supported by significant capital investment. Most recently, the Group unveiled the results of an ambitious £4.9m transformation of the NEC’s interior and exterior, named Project Facelift.
Paul Thandi, chief executive of the NEC Group, said: “Blackstone’s track record in scaling companies, sector knowledge and unrivalled real estate capabilities, make them the ideal new partner for NEC Group to realise the next phase of our ambitious growth strategy. All of our teams and partners look forward to working closely with the world class team as we embark on becoming the definitive name in events and exhibitions, while continuing to focus on innovations and new customer experience offerings for all our customer groups.”
Lionel Assant, European head of private equity at Blackstone, added: “Under the leadership of Paul Thandi, a best in class management team and the support of LDC, the NEC has transformed its main site into a leading leisure, entertainment and business destination, which continues to benefit from a diverse customer base.
“We have tremendous respect for what has been achieved; NEC Group is iconic and we are excited about our new partnership as we look to leverage our firm’s capabilities in support of the team.”
This isn’t Blackstone’s first foray into the exhibition industry, having previously acquired Clarion Events in summer 2017 for approximately £600m.