Events. Blackstone Group has agreed to buy the National Exhibition Centre Group (NEC), the UK’s largest exhibition venue operator, from LDC, the buyout arm of Lloyds Banking Group PLC. The deal values NEC Group at around £800m. LDC had bought the company from Birmingham City Council for £307m in 2015. Founded in 1976, the NEC owns and operates Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, the International Convention Centre and Arena Birmingham. The group also owns the Genting Arena in Birmingham, a ticketing agency and a catering business, and has a contract to run the disused Bradford Odeon, which is reopening as a 4,000-capacity live events venue in 2020. The NEC reported EBITDA profit of £54.7m in 2017 – up nearly 10%. Blackstone expects to triple NEC’s EBITDA from £70m to £200m during the next five years through acquisitions and organic growth of about 5% per year. Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, hosts the Commonwealth Games in 2022, with four NEC properties the venues for sports such as judo and gymnastics. The deal follows Blackstone’s purchase of Clarion, the UK-US exhibition organiser, for £600m last year. Since then, Clarion has reportedly tripled in size through acquisitions in the US and Asia. It is rumoured to have approached RELX about the possible divestment of Reed Exhibitions, which had been the world’s longtime leading exhibition organiser until Informa’s acquisition of UBM in 2018.