Shareholders of the UK-based UBM and Informa exhibitions-led companies have approved the £3.9bn bid, to create the world’s second largest event organiser. Informa, in fact, claims that the combined £2.8bn-revenue group will be the market leader, with 24 of the top 250 exhibitions in the US and 150 brands globally.
Next up in UK-based exhibitions companies is the auction by Ascential (owner of Cannes Lions and Money 20/20) of its once core retail trade shows including The International Spring Fair, which may fetch £300m.
A juicy auction price could well encourage RELX finally to sell-off its distinctly non-core but market-leading Reed Exhibitions which has 500 events per year in 30 countries, with revenue split 40:40:20 between Europe, rest of the world, and the US. Despite 6% revenue growth in 2017, Reed Exhibitions’ 2% profit growth was the lowest of all RELX’s B2B, STM and legal operations.
It’s almost the perfect time for a sell-off by RELX which recently splashed £580m on ThreatMatrix, its largest data acquisition for a decade. Expect the largest US-based exhibitions organiser, the publicly-listed Emerald Expositions (55 trade shows), and the increasingly-international Blackstone-owned Clarion Events to be sharpening their pencils.
This could become a momentous year for deals in exhibitions, the (so far) undisrupted and uninterrupted highlight of B2B media everywhere.