Exhibition News October 2018 - Page 14

AGENDA To PE or not to PE? At the eighth annual EN Race Day at Sandown Park Racecourse, a top panel took to the stage to discuss private equity investment in the industry, and the risks and rewards of that financing route E 14 ach year the EN Race Day tackles one topic with an in-depth panel discussion, and this year’s event gathered together a fantastic panel to debate the pros and cons of private equity investment in the exhibition industry. Denzil Rankine, executive chairman of AMR Intentional, moderated the discussion, bringing his own 30 years of experience advising companies on strategic development and acquisition to the table. The discussion kicked off with Amanda Barnes, CEO of Faversham House, discussing her experience with private equity. Barnes embarked on her private equity journey as a method of raising capital to buy her family out of the business. Banks won’t provide funding for borrowers to give to other people, so she found herself with limited courses of action. “For me the choices were quite narrow; I found an advisor ¬– that’s essential if you’re doing a deal of any sort – and they work on your side, they have the contacts in the private equity world,” she said. “That’s the route I took. But it’s a very expensive route, quite a complex route and we were a very small deal.” Phil Soar, CEO of CloserStill Media and Photogaraphy: Aniseed Photo chairman of Brand Events and Nineteen Events, detailed some of his extensive experience in the field of private equity, including some home truths: “Don’t be fooled; private equity is not interested in you. Private equity is interested in making money out of what you can bring to it.” Russell Wilcox, CEO of Clarion, then spoke about his experience working with private equity investors. Clarion has been owned by a number of consecutive PE funds, most recently by Blackstone, which acquired the business in summer 2017 for around £600m. “The private equity money that we have put to work has been to fund increasing expansion through M&A,” he explained. “The goal was to be a global business, and we knew that private equity was the best way for us to do that quickly.” Rankine then posed a question to the panel: is private equity really just about the money? Jonny Burr, whose role as origination director at Mobeus Equity Partners involves contacting, researching and understanding entrepreneurial businesses, said: “I don’t disagree that private equity is focused on making a decent return and that that’s the primary focus. They may not be interested in you as people, but you should certainly be interested in them. “One of my biggest pieces of advice for anyone thinking of getting into bed with PE, is find out as much as you can about them. Find out about the people that you’re getting involved with, what are their drivers? Reference anyone and anything that has been associated with that individual. Speak to anyone you can. “Understanding each other’s motivations is really important.” The day concluded with a networking lunch courtesy of Sandown Park followed by the races. To see a full gallery from the day check out the EN website. EN THE NAME IN EVENT HIRE 0800 458 5701 Charles Wilson AD Final.indd 1 October 2018 Engineers | exhibitionnews.co.uk eventhire@cwplant.co.uk 15/03/2018 11:13