Providence acquires CloserStill Media for £340m

London-based CloserStill Media has been acquired by Providence Equity Partners, the previous owner of Clarion Events, for a reported £340m (US$431.2m).

The move comes after years of significant growth for the UK organiser, which was valued at £25m in 2012 when Phoenix Private Equity bought into the company and £125m in 2015 when Inflexion bought a minority stake.

Flagship events include the London Vet Show, Cloud Expo Asia, Data Centre World, The Pharmacy Show, Learning Technologies and The Dentistry Show.

Since the Inflexion investment in 2015 the organiser has made eight acquisitions – five in 2017 and three in 2018 – but CloserStill Chairman and CEO Phil Soar highlighted that the majority of the company’s growth has been organic. Much of the growth has come from the geo-cloning of successful shows in Asia, Germany and the US, with the launch of events such as Cloud Asia, Learning Technologies Germany and New York Vet.

Soar added: “We are very pleased to partner with Providence, who have extensive experience in our industry, and whom we have known for many years. Providence have a superb track record in supporting growth businesses, not least in the trade show industry. It’s been a very successful sector for them and they understand it extremely well.” He declined to comment on the reported sale price.

In 2011 Providence acquired George Little Management in the US, which was then sold to Emerald Expositions in early 2014. In 2017 the company sold Clarion Events to Blackstone for a reported £600m.

“We have 171 employees who are shareholders and who will benefit, and they will all become shareholders in the new company going forwards,” concluded Soar, adding that the CloserStill management team would remain the same with the company’s new owner.

Commenting on the announcement, Andrew Tisdale, Managing Director at Providence, said: “CloserStill is an exceptional business led by a strong management team with a proven track record of developing and acquiring successful events around the world. With a compelling global portfolio and diverse customer base across the technology, learning and healthcare sectors, CloserStill is well-positioned to accelerate the momentum the business has generated to date. We are excited to partner with such a fantastic team and look forward to working together.”

CloserStill was advised by Addleshaw Goddard LLP and DC Advisory on the legal and financial aspects, respectively. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP served as legal advisor to Providence and LionTree Advisors as financial advisor.