Asia-Pacific Region Is Rife for Exhibition Acquisition Opportunities

November 7, 2012

China isn’t the only country in the Asia-Pacific region that companies continue to eye for acquisition opportunities, markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia, among others, also are gaining a lot of attention.

“Southeast Asia is becoming the next area of interest,” said Steve Monnington, managing director of Mayfield Media Strategies.

He added, “International companies discuss their strategy with us and around 20 have told us that part of (their) strategy is Southeast Asia.”

Mayfield Media Strategies works with local organizers helping them to find the right company to sell their business to or to partner with.

“We run a database of all transactions that take place across the world in the exhibition sector,” Monnington said.

In 2010, there were 42 transactions, followed by 55 in 2011 and 56 so far this year, he added.

“Everyone assumes it’s just Reed and UBM who are buying, but this year, there have been 26 different purchasers in 16 countries,” Monnington said.

In Asia, China still is the primary destination for a lot of acquisition activity in the region “What we’ve seen so far this year, is China is dominating spend,” he added. “I believe there are a still opportunities in 2nd-tier cities in China, as well as the main cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.”

Monnington said he recently had 24 meetings with independent show organizers in China and the majority are interested in selling and/or partnering with international organizers.

“China is self-propagating,” he added. “I think it’s such a vast, fast-growing market, it lends itself to entrepreneurs launching shows. China is not just one country; it’s actually 10 different countries.”

And, even though China’s GDP growth rate has slipped somewhat recently, it still has a faster rate than most other countries worldwide.

“The slowing economy won’t impact show deals,” Monnington said.

Some recent acquisitions in China included U.K.-based Tarsus Group’s buy of a 50-percent stake in the China International Automotive Aftermarket Industry and Tuning (Guangzhou) Trade Fair (“GZ Auto”) and the U.K.-based UBM Sinexpo, a joint venture company between UBM Asia and Shanghai Sinoexpo International Exhibition Ltd., acquisition of the Winexpo trade show earlier this year.

Indonesia currently has a fast growth rate and also has become an intense area of focus, with several international organizers already making buys in the country.

Monnington said  there are between eight and 10 local organizers of business-to-business shows in Indonesia and each have met with four, five or six overseas organizers each, but for some, it’s a ‘wait and see’ situation right now.

“I am hoping that what we are doing is bringing more comfort level to those local organizers still unsure of moving forward,” Monnington said.

Instead of just looking to buy in Indonesia, companies such as Tarsus Group decided to launch new ones.

In September, the company added to its automotive aftermarket portfolio in the region by partnering with Dyandra Promosindo - organizer of the Indonesian Motor Show – in the launch of the inaugural AAITF Jakarta in March 2014.

Germany-based Messe Duesseldorf, along with PT Wahana Kemalaniaga Makmur (WAKENI), also will launch the indometal 2013, International Metal & Steel Trade Fair next year in Jakarta.

There are newer emerging markets international organizers are looking at, including Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.

“They are very new, under-developed markets,” Monnington said. “Myanmar is the market everyone is talking about.”

Most of these markets, though, have venue issues and in the case of a place like Myanmar, he added, the schedule at the main venue there already is full since the monsoon period cuts into when shows can be held.

“People are betting on another exhibition center to be built there,” Monnington said. “The 2013 calendar already is full.”

He added that there are some geo-political, as well as other risks, going into certain markets in the Asia-Pacific region, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping international organizers.

“Most organizers willing to go into these markets will take acceptable risks,” Monnington said.

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