As the clock runs down for the sale by the end of the year of the NEC Group, one potential buyer, the Genting group has become the new commercial sponsor of what is, until the end of the year, the LG Arena.
Genting will add its name to the Arena, on top of the casino operators already £140m investment in the neighbouring Resorts World complex, which includes a hotel and conference centre.
The Arena deal is for 10 years and begins from the 1 January 2015.
Peter Brooks Genting UK President, said: “The sponsorship of the Arena is a very strong symbol of that working relationship and of the exciting opportunities that lie before us to further enhance and develop the experiences of visitors to the NEC.”
Genting’s Arena sponsorship deal also follows Barclaycard’s deal with the NIA.
NEC Group CEO Paul Thandi described the latest Genting deal as putting the venue “in the Champions League of arenas”
Speaking on BBC Radio West Midlands NEC Arenas MD Phil Mead said: “It is no longer a practical solution to ask the city for money”. Mead added that regardless of who buys the NEC, nothing has changed in terms of our intention to operate venues successfully”.
Thandi has also said final due diligence was now being completed on the main deal for the sale of the NEC Group.
Since it opened in 1986, the NEC has grown to 20 halls, accommodating 2m visitors and 33,000 exhibition companies.
The group turned over a profit of £15.5m last year but the council’s debt obligations have forced it into a sale of the venue and the market awaits the outcome of the bidding process with great interest.
Interviewed by the BBC, 6 November, Mash Media MD Julian Agostini said that the industry looked to any new owner to expand and invest in the exhibition and events space at the NEC.
“Space is at a premium in the UK with the closure of Earls Court,” said Agostini, “and it’s a boom time for our industry. Everyone is, of course, very interested in who the new owner of the NEC Group is going to be. Organisers want more choice and more space.”
Agostini also underlined that the industry was increasingly getting its message over to government of its “enormous effect” on local economies. “When a trade show comes to town, everyone gets a payday. The local economic by-product is huge,” he said.
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