Investment firm Blackstone has announced the acquisition of Clarion Events from private equity funds managed by Providence Equity Partners. The financial media has valued the deal at £600m and said there had also been interest from Cinven and from a Chinese investment company. If the figure is true, it values the company at three times the figure Providence Equity paid in 2015.
Headquartered in London with over 950 employees in 13 offices worldwide, Clarion manages and delivers 180 events in more than 50 countries. The company was originally spun out of Earls Court & Olympia in 2004 and has since been under ownership of various private equity houses.
The company has a diverse portfolio of events and brands across a range of vertical markets, including Retail & Home, Gaming, Defence and Security, Technology and Energy.
Lionel Assant, head of European private equity at Blackstone, said: “We are delighted to invest in Clarion and back chairman Simon Kimble and CEO Russell Wilcox in the company’s next chapter. Clarion’s leading position in its markets combined with its strong management team will enable the company to continue growing both organically and through M&A. Blackstone has a significant track record of investing in media businesses as well as buy and build platforms. We look forward to working together with management to capitalise on its success.”
Andrew Tisdale, managing director at Providence, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with the outstanding team at Clarion. They have delivered both impressive organic growth and executed a compelling acquisition strategy. Clarion has developed an exceptional entrepreneurial culture, and we feel fortunate to have worked with them so closely. We believe and fully support their strategy and its ongoing implementation – and are pleased to have the option to participate in Clarion’s future success.”
Providence, which invested in Clarion in 2015, has an option to reinvest a portion of its proceeds from the sale into Clarion.
Russell Wilcox, CEO of Clarion Events, added: “We are extremely excited about our new partnership with Blackstone and see a great future going forward. The management team has enjoyed an immensely productive and successful relationship with Providence, who have been tremendous partners over the last two years. We have been impressed with Blackstone’s ambition and approach. With their support and strategic leadership, we will be looking to expand our global platform even further, both through consistent organic growth and the successful integration of acquisitions into the portfolio.”