Council to sell NEC to cover legal liabilities?

A BBC report claims Birmingham City Council has confirmed it has not ruled out selling off the NEC to cover legal liabilities due to cases brought over equal pay which total over £1bn. The report quotes a financial expert who values the NEC “as little as £300m”.

The city authority has already agreed settlements with thousands of women who were paid less than men who did equivalent jobs, but apparently thousands more outstanding cases are in the pipeline.

The council has reportedly borrowed money to pay out nearly £500m but a shortfall of a similar amount remains and more borrowing is not allowed.

The council claims assets of £5bn, assets which include the NEC Group comprising the National Exhibition Centre, the LG Arena, the National Indoor Arena and International Convention Centre.

CN asked the NEC to comment on the BBC report: “As has been previously announced, Birmingham City Council is actively reviewing the opportunity to realise the strategic potential of the NEC Group, which is wholly-owned by Birmingham City Council,” a statement said. “No decision has yet been taken regarding a potential sale. The NEC Group team remains focused on working with its customers to deliver the fantastic schedule of live events across all of its venues.”

One worry for the council when considering any proposed sell off of the NEC is that it could be perceived as a fire sale to land developers. The NEC’s value to the local Midlands economy probably far exceeds experts’ dry reading of the accounts.

Meanwhile, NEC in-house caterer Amadeus has won its first fixed site catering contract in London and will provide catering for the London Borough of Camden at its new council offices in Kings Cross.

This new contract follows wins for Amadeus, including Cadbury World, Library of Birmingham and Town Hall, Birmingham, and reinforces the management team’s focus on securing fixed site venues.

Amadeus has an office in Charlotte Street, London, from where it can manage any new business in the capital and the surrounding area.  

Amadeus will invest £250,000 to build and equip the cafes for the five-year contract, which is worth around £5m in income. Camden Council will benefit from an income share.

Amadeus Managing Director, Kevin Watson, said: “We are extremely excited about this contract with London Borough of Camden and look forward to working in partnership to provide quality food for both residents and council employees. The Kings Cross area is undergoing major changes and we are pleased to have been successful in securing a contract in one of the capital’s up-and-coming districts. We are looking forward to gaining more business in the area and will be seeking out further growth opportunities.”

Paul Thandi, Chief Executive of the NEC Group, added: “Amadeus is one of the growth businesses within the NEC Group and I am pleased with the refocusing of that business together with the impressive run of recent wins secured by the new team. London Borough of Camden is our first fixed-site contract in London and represents a significant step forward for Amadeus and the Group. We will be working hard to secure more new business in the area.”

Do you have news for CN? Email: pcolston@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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