Exhibition News May 2019 - Page 10

M&A The Dealmaker Steve Monnington of Mayfield Media Strategies runs the rule over the latest global exhibition deals U ntil recently GL Events business in China was concentrated predominantly on venue management and contracting services but in the last couple of months they have really stepped up their M&A activity for exhibitions. Last month I reported on their acquisition of 55 per cent of CIEC Union, owned by the state-owned China Council for Promotion of International Trade which runs exhibitions for Wallpaper, Curtains, Home Décor and Building Materials. They have quickly followed this up with an agreement to acquire 60 per cent of the shares of Shenzhen Sheng Shi Peng Cheng Exhibitions, organiser of the Fashion Source exhibitions in southern China. Fashion Source covers fabrics and accessories for the fashion sector and runs twice a year in Shenzhen. The three Chinese shareholders of the business have been holding discussions with potential international partners for two years and will retain 40 per cent of the company. This is a highly strategic acquisition for GL – not just in cementing their involvement in exhibitions in China – but as 49 per cent owner of Premier 10 — May Vision, the leading event for fabrics and services for the fashion industry, held in Paris. In October 2018, GL announced a Rights Issue which raised €106m from its existing shareholders primarily to fund acquisitions in China and Japan and we can expect further developments in this area as they are planning to complete a further exhibition transaction in China before the end of June. Centaur Media has agreed the sale of three of several non- core businesses expected to be sold. The travel division, which consists of the Business Travel Show, The Meetings Show and Travel Technology Europe, will be sold to US-based Northstar Travel Group. One might have expected Reed to make a play for this, but it also makes sense for Northstar as it already produces 75 events in 13 countries in travel, hospitality and the meetings industry. The price is £9.25m for a business that made an operating profit of £1.7m last year, representing a multiple of 5.4x although no central back office overheads are applied. The human resources division, which consists of Employee Benefits Live, Employee Benefits Connect and the Forum for Expatriate Management, will be sold to DVV Media International, the UK subsidiary of German publisher DVV Media GmbH. DVV covers both the transport & logistics and HR sectors and already publishes Personnel Today. The price is £5m for a business that made an operating profit of £1.2m last year representing a multiple of just over 4x (although profits declined from £1.4m in 2017). The financial services division (which doesn’t include any exhibitions but does include Money Marketing) will be sold to Metropolis. As with the HR division the price is £5m for £1.2m of operating profit. At the time of going to press there was no news about a purchaser for Centaur’s Subcon divisions although there is speculation that Mark Allen Group will acquire this. The relatively low multiples achieved for these divisions compared to what we normally see for the sale of independent businesses highlights the difficulties that several of the large organisers have in achieving good prices for the businesses that they no longer want, especially when profits are either flat or in decline. Bonhill Group, publisher of Information Age and Investment News, don’t usually feature in this column but they have splashed out £8m to acquire Last Word Media, an international B2B media business based in London, Hong Kong and Singapore which addresses the sales and marketing needs of the global asset management industry and information requirements of the wealth management industry. The business includes seven news and information websites, two of which have