Freeman Acquires U.K-based General Service Contractor SO Group

March 27, 2013

Dallas-based Freeman, a provider of marketing solutions for live events in North America, has acquired U.K.-based general service contractor SO Group.

“For 86 years, Freeman has focused its business on responding to the specific needs of each client,” said Joe Popolo, CEO of Freeman.

He added, “Our customers are increasingly looking for strategic partnerships that provide seamless service beyond North America, and this acquisition positions us to answer that call. We are extremely excited to bring these two businesses together.”

As of today, the business and assets of SO Group, and its subsidiary 360 Creative Event Services, will be incorporated into the Freeman family of brands and the business will operate under the trade name “SO Group, a Freeman Company.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

N200, which was a part of SO Group's registration division, but not included in the sale to Freeman, has a message on it's Web site that indicated SO Group was in bankruptcy proceedings when Freeman bought the company.

Also on N220's site, the company said they were open to discussing working with Freeman moving forward.

Popolo said the two companies were a "good fit" culturally. "They really have a strong employee culture that lines up with ours," he added.

SO Group, which works in seven cities across the U.K., is meant to be a springboard not only into the rest of Europe, but other overseas locales where Freeman's clients are launching shows, Popolo said.

"This is all about our desire to serve our customers," he added,

Matt Ingram, joint administrator of Duff & Phelps, an investment banking firm that handled the transaction, said, “From the outset of the administration process Freeman has demonstrated a real commitment to see the transaction concluded. I am delighted that it has been successful in its bid, as it provides a positive result for over 350 employees and offers a much enhanced outcome from creditors than any other realistic proposition.”

The deal gives both companies wider geographic scope, as well as provides more depth of capabilities and expertise to clientele.

“The two businesses share a similar culture, complementary services and a shared commitment to delivering exceptional customer experience,” said David Walley, CEO of SO Group.

He added, “We are excited about what this acquisition by Freeman means for customers in North America and the UK, and we look forward to a smooth integration that brings the best of both operations under one brand.”

SO Group is “delivery partner to 88 percent of top U.K. organizers and preferred supplier to a third of the biggest venues in the country,” according to the company’s Web site.

Two years ago, Freeman made another major deal, buying three companies owned by San Francisco-based Wheelhouse Solutions – Champion Exposition Services, George Fern Exposition & Services and Immersa Marketing – for an undisclosed sum.

George Fern Exposition & Services was taken independent by Aaron Bludworth, who runs the company, and his group.

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