The Blackstone-owned Clarion Events has acquired Consero Group, a Maryland, US-based provider of invitation-only programmes, serving corporates through in-person and virtual events, and roundtables. The deal follows last year’s acquisition of the meeting business Quartz Events, which is said to have seen “exponential growth” in 2021.
Founded in 2010, Consero Group organises events in the legal, customer experience, HR, procurement and technology sectors which – Clarion says – “represent new opportunities both in North America and globally”. It is believed to have had angel funding of $800k in 2012, and employs 49 people.
The UK-based Clarion operates over 180 events in 10 sectors (principally defence & security, electronics, energy and technology) and 50 countries. In 2019, it was one of the world’s five largest trade show organisers (source: AMR). It can trace its roots back to 1947 and is one of the oldest independent event organizers in the UK. It was acquired by Blackstone from Providence Equity Partners in 2017 for a reported £600m (16x operating profit in 2016). In 2020, the parent company was said to have provided some £80m to help Clarion fund its operations during the pandemic. Recently, it is believed to have injected an additional £20m of equity.
In the year ended January 2021, Clarion had revenue of £100m (2020: £414m). It made an operating loss of £226.7m,although 59% of this was a non-cash impairment charge. In January this year, the company had 1,600 employees worldwide, about 20% in the UK. Some 20% of the employees were said to be primarily involved in publishing.
In 2020, 32% of the company’s revenue was generated from each of Europe/UK and North America, and 36% from the rest of the world. In 2019, Clarion made four acquisitions totalling £73.1m as follows: InsureTech Connect US (70%, £27.1m); Media 10 Shanghai (£32.9m); Image Engine Singapore (70%, £7.4m); and Mobile Apps Unlocked US (94%, £5.7m).
This year marks 20 years since Clarion Chair Simon Kimble’s appointment as managing director of what was then a small UK exhibition organising subsidiary of the pe-backed Earls Court & Olympia Group. Clarion became a standalone business in 2004. CEO is Russell Wilcox who joined Clarion in 2008.