LDC has today entered into a binding agreement to acquire The National Exhibition Centre Group (“NEC” or “the business”) in a transaction which values the business at around £307million. The transaction transfers the NEC into private ownership for the first time and allows the business to more easily realise available growth opportunities.
The deal, which has been led by LDC’s Birmingham team, brings together two of the most prominent names in the Midlands’ business landscape whilst remaining consistent with the Council’s vision and strategic ambitions for the NEC Group and its wider regional development plans.
The NEC Group comprises the UK’s leading live Exhibition, Arena and Conference venues; the National Exhibition Centre itself, the Genting Arena, the Barclaycard Arena (formerly the National Indoor Arena) and the International Convention Centre, as well as the NEC’s other commercial activities including The Ticket Factory, specialist catering business, Amadeus and the NEC’s third party venue management operations.
As part of the transaction, LDC will also acquire Birmingham City Council’s interest in Genting Resorts World at the NEC site; a new £200million integrated leisure and entertainment complex, comprising four and five star hotel and spa, destination retail offering, a range of internationally-themed restaurants and bars, 11-screen cinema with state-of-the-art digital technology, and one of only three ‘Large-Casinos’ in the UK offering a contemporary and exciting gaming experience.
The NEC will operate the Vox Conference and Banqueting facility at Genting Resorts World, to complement and enhance its wider Exhibition, Conference, Live Events and Arena Shows offering at the NEC site.
Birmingham City Council retains its interest in the Metropole and Crowne Plaza hotel leases.
Widely regarded as an iconic British business, the NEC Group is a major contributor to the West Midlands economy, delivering an estimated economic impact to the region of more than £2bn per annum and supporting some 29,000 jobs. The business has hosted events as diverse as G8 and European Union summits, political and industry conferences, Horse of the Year Show, Crufts and virtually all of music and comedy’s global stars. In recent years, the NEC has successfully implemented a number of important strategic initiatives which strengthen its market position, including an extensive £100million refurbishment and upgrade programme and through diversification into related commercial activities.
LDC will be working alongside the NEC’s current management team, led by Chief Executive Paul Thandi, to deliver further strategic organic and acquisition-led initiatives across all business channels, both in the UK and overseas.
The deal was led by LDC’s Birmingham-based team, including LDC Chief Executive Officer Martin Draper who, along with LDC Director Steve Aston, will join the NEC board.
Martin Draper, LDC’s Chief Executive Officer said: “The NEC Group is one of UK’s best known and iconic businesses, particularly so in the Midlands where it is at the heart of the regions commercial and leisure activities.
“The NEC Group has developed significantly over recent years and we’re delighted to be working with such a strong and experienced team to deliver the NEC’s next exciting phase of development. We also look forward to working closely with both Birmingham and Solihull Councils to support their plans at both the NEC and City Centre sites which include the airport expansion, redevelopment of the Paradise Circus area and in connection with the HS2 project.”
Paul Thandi, Chief Executive of the NEC Group added: “The NEC Group has grown strongly over recent years, allowing us to redefine our position as a leading player in the live event and exhibition space, whilst delivering strong financial results.
“NEC Group management and staff are motivated to realise our ambitions and accelerate our growth strategy under new ownership alongside LDC. From the start LDC has understood the NEC Group’s potential with new ways of deploying investment in resources and capital to the benefit of the business, our customers, and our markets. Their support will allow us to capitalise on our market-leading position and our team look forward to building a new phase of organic and acquisitive growth.”
LDC was supported on the transaction by Macquarie which led and arranged bank facilities, Plural Strategy Group and a number of Birmingham-based advisers including Eversheds and Deloitte. The management team were advised by Catalyst Corporate Finance and Gateley in Birmingham.
The deal with the NEC Group will form part of LDC’s on-going strategy to invest in growing businesses, backing high calibre management teams.