October 15, 2018 - Private Equity Funds managed by Blackstone (“Blackstone”) announce the acquisition of the National Exhibition Centre Group (“NEC” or “the company”), a leading live events venue operator in the UK, from LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.
Founded in 1976, the NEC has grown into the UK’s live events business of choice for organisers, exhibitors and visitors, playing host to over seven million guests and 750 events every year. The NEC boasts Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre, the International Convention Centre, the Genting Arena and Arena Birmingham among its assets as well as caterer Amadeus and national ticketing agency The Ticket Factory.
The National Exhibition Centre hosts many of the largest exhibitions in the UK, including Crufts, the internationally acclaimed dog show, Spring Fair, the UK’s largest exhibition, and Grand Designs Live. Many other renowned events take place within the NEC venues and NEC has partnered with Merlin Entertainments to open their first Bear Grylls Adventure visitor attraction and a LEGOLAND Discovery Centre on the company’s sites. The NEC is also due to host nine sports as part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
LDC originally backed a management buyout of the Group in January 2015. Since then, it has supported a four-year transformation programme to enhance sites, facilities and customer experience and broaden the range of events across the Group’s portfolio, supported by significant capital investment.
Paul Thandi, Chief Executive of the NEC Group, said: “Blackstone’s track record in scaling companies, sector knowledge and unrivalled real estate capabilities, make them the ideal new partner for NEC Group to realise the next phase of our ambitious growth strategy. All of our teams and partners look forward to working closely with the world class team as we embark on becoming the definitive name in events and exhibitions, while continuing to focus on innovations and new customer experience offerings for all our customer groups.”
Lionel Assant, European Head of Private Equity at Blackstone, added: “Under the leadership of Paul Thandi, a best in class management team and the support of LDC, the NEC has transformed its main site into a leading leisure, entertainment and business destination, which continues to benefit from a diverse customer base. We have tremendous respect for what has been achieved; NEC Group is iconic and we are excited about our new partnership as we look to leverage our firm’s capabilities in support of the team.”
Blackstone was advised by Moelis. LDC was advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our asset management businesses, with approximately $440 billion in assets under management, include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, noninvestment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow Blackstone on Twitter @Blackstone.
About The NEC Group
NEC Group is a live entertainment business with over forty years of world-class expertise in venue and destination management. Every year, over seven million people come together at more than 750 events at NEC Group venues and neighbouring Resorts World to learn, conduct business and be entertained.
Five of the UK’s leading business, leisure, and entertainment venues come under NEC Group’s portfolio - the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), International Convention Centre (ICC), Genting Arena, Arena Birmingham and the Vox Conference Centre. Additional interests include national ticketing agency, The Ticket Factory; hospitality brand, Amplify and award-winning caterer, Amadeus, as well as out-of-home digital media specialists and sponsorship consultancy, NEC Connect Group. NEC Group also have a consultancy and venue management arm, NEC Group Venue Partnerships, which was recently awarded operating partner status for the iconic former Bradford Odeon with a remit to place it firmly back on the national live music touring circuit.
LDC is the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group. It backs ambitious management teams from UK based companies seeking up to £100m of equity for management buy-outs, institutional buy-outs or development capital transactions. LDC has a portfolio of 90 businesses across the UK which collectively generates £5.5bn of revenues and employs in excess of 32,000 people. LDC invests in a broad range of sectors and has particular experience in Construction & Property, Financial Services, Healthcare, Industrials, Retail & Consumer, TMT, Travel & Leisure and Support Services. LDC has committed to invest £1.2bn in UK mid-market businesses over the next three years. Over the last three years (2014-16), LDC has invested over £1bn of equity and generated exit proceeds of more than £2bn. For further information, visit www.ldc.co.uk
Andrew Dowler/Rebecca Flower
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Martin Currie on behalf of LDC
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