Genting, the company behind the casino development at The NEC, has refused to rule itself out of the bidding for the NEC Group.
When asked by CN if it intended to make a bid, the firm said it is looking forward to opening the £150m Resorts World Birmingham complex in 2015 at The NEC and avoided directly answering.
“This will be the UK’s first fully integrated leisure complex on this scale to open and Genting have enjoyed a positive and successful working relationship with the current owners of the NEC,” the response said.
“The company looks forward to working with the new owners of the NEC in the years ahead to ensure that the venue remains the premier location for exhibitions, trade shows, entertainment and leisure in the UK,” the statement added.
The multinational firm has around 55,000 employees (excluding Genting Hong Kong), 4,500 hectares of prime resort land and about 228,300 hectares of plantation land. The Genting Group was founded in 1965 with the development of a highlands resort in Malaysia.
Resorts World Genting is one of the world’s leading integrated entertainment resorts, attracting 19.6m visitors in 2013.
The NEC sale process is now down to a second round of shortlisted bidders, rumoured to include US and UK private equity companies. Names put in the frame are Providence Equity Partners and LDC (Lloyds Development Capital), a company with strong roots in Birmingham.
LDC Marketing Director Rob Pendleton said he was unable to comment one way or another on “market speculation”.
If LDC is on the final list, the news would herald the return of British private equity to the sector, more recently dominated by US equity (examples being Starwood Capital for De Vere Venues and Bain Capital for QHotels).
For many it would be a welcome return of UK investors to the sector backing a British management team.
The NEC Group is an important contributor to the West Midlands economy, delivering an economic impact of over £2bn a year, while supporting around 29,000 jobs in the region.
In addition to its four venues, the NEC Group has successfully established a number of related businesses. These include national ticketing agency The Ticket Factory, catering business Amadeus and NEC Group International which is taking its venue management expertise into the operation of third party-owned venues.
The NEC, meanwhile, when contacted, was sticking to its old holding press statement: “In early March Birmingham City Council (BCC) announced that it had resolved to seek offers for the NEC Group and initiated a pre-qualification process whilst sale preparations were finalised.
“First round bids were received as scheduled at the end of May. We’re now in Round Two of the process with the NEC Group sale attracting strong bid interest from a number of potential investors. Both BCC and NEC Group have a strict duty of confidentiality to all parties, so cannot make any comment on the names or nature of prospective bidders.
“Further updates will be given at the appropriate juncture, with completion of the process expected later in the year.”
Do you have news for CN? Email: Paul Colston