Trade Show M&A Deal Values More Than Double in 1H 2013

June 30, 2013

Topped by private equity firm ONEX’ $950 million buy of Nielsen Expositions, trade show industry deal values more than doubled in the first half of this year, compared to the same time period last year.

As tracked by the The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc. in their “JEGI 1H 2013 M&A Overview”, the first half of 2013 saw $1.24 billion in exhibitions and conferences deals, compared with last year’s first half total of $435 million.

The number of deals, however, remained relatively flat, with 30 deals in the first half of 2013, compared with last year’s same time period saw 28 deals.

“The tradeshow sector is fairly consolidated so the number of deals will not likely increase dramatically however there will likely be a continued flow of activity in the sector,” said Scott Peters, JEGI’s co-president.

While deals like the Nielsen one don’t happen every day, he added that, though he couldn’t comment on specifics, the Nielsen deal definitely heightened “interest in the tradeshow sector from investors and strategic buyers.”

Even through the recessionary times, private equity firms have remained players in the trade show M&A market.

“The combination of high EBITDA margins with cash flow timing and low capital expenditures make the model favorable to private equity investors,” Peters said.

He added, “It also helps that the face-to-face aspect of the business is not under the same pressures imposed by the internet as other forms of media.”

Other buyers in the first half of this year have included Reed Expositions’ acquisition of Expo Nacional Ferretera, a Mexican event serving the hardware, construction and electrical markets, for $25 million; Global Sources’ acquisition of a 70-percent stake in Shenzhen International Machinery Manufacturing Industry Exhibition (SIMM), manufacturing tradeshows in China, for $16 million; and Hanley Wood’s acquisition of the Greenbuild Conference & Expo, an event for the sustainable construction industry.

“Many of the large strategic acquirers, such as Reed and UBM, remain bullish on the tradeshow model, and we see increased interest from the PE funds, which means we should see both bolt-ons, as well as new PE platforms being formed” Peters said.

Looking into the future, he added, “The tradeshow sector is fairly consolidated, so the number of deals will not likely increase dramatically, however, there will likely be a continued flow of activity in the sector.”

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