Private equity release from council for NEC?

The owner of the Ambassador Theatre Group is among the bidders for Birmingham landmark the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), according to a national news report.

Private equity firms and pension funds, including the Providence Equity Partners (controlling shareholder in the theatre group) were said by Sky News to be among the parties to have tabled indicative offers for the NEC Group.

An NEC spokesman would not comment on the latest report when contacted by CN. He stressed there had been no change to the group’s official reactive statement, which had reiterated that the group has “a strict duty of confidentiality to all parties, so cannot make any comment on the names or nature of prospective bidders”.

The auction process is being led by City advisers at Gleacher Shacklock, who also referred all requests for comment back to the NEC.

It is thought a likely price tag for The NEC Group, which comprises the NEC exhibition space, the International Convention Centre, the LG Arena and the National Indoor Arena, is around £300m. The cash-strapped Council has been looking to sell the venue complex since it had to find a budget shortfall caused by employment tribunal settlements.

The Ticket Factory; Amplify, a hospitality brand; and Amadeus, a catering operation are all also part of the group.

It is still unclear whether bidders will be able to buy the entire business or whether Birmingham City Council will stick to its original intention and remain a part shareholder.

Birmingham City Council announced it was putting the NEC Group up for sale in March promising that any successful bidder would need to share the vision and strategic ambitions of the group in order to maximise the proceeds for the local economy.

The NEC Group is a key contributor to the West Midlands economy, bringing in around £2bn a year and helping to support around 29,000 jobs.
 
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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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