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April 16, 2008

Liberty International buys 50% stake in EC&O Venues

Yesterday (2 July) EVENTS:review received confirmation of a deal brokered between EC&O Venues and Liberty International.

The majority shareholders of EC&O Venues, Anthony Lyons and Simon Conway, announced on 2 July that they are entering into a 50:50 joint venture with Capital & Counties, a division of Liberty International, a major UK FTSE 100 listed property company, with property investments of more than £8 billion in the UK and the US.

The partnership will own and manage Earls Court and Olympia Exhibition Centres and the Brewery (Chiswell Street, London).

“Our new partners share the vision outlined by Anthony, Simon and the rest of the EC&O Venues’ senior management team, to make Earls Court and Olympia a landmark leisure destination, centred around the core businesses of exhibitions, conferences and special events,” said Nigel Nathan, EC&O’s group commercial director, in an email to EVENTS:review’s editor in chief Ian Whiteling.

Commenting on the deal, Ian Hawksworth, managing director of Capital & Counties, said: “We are looking forward to participating in the future of EC&O and to enhancing its already excellent reputation whilst exploring opportunities to intensify use.”

Meanwhile, Nathan was keen to point out the progress made in the three years since Lyons and Conway took over at EC&O Venues. “There has been a focus on the core business of exhibitions, conferences and special events, which has seen the company consolidating its position as owner and manager of the UK’s premier events venues, extending the venue portfolio, growing existing business and attracting a raft of new and market-leading events,” he said. “There’s also been a renewed emphasis on people management, which has ensured that the company’s reputation for customer service within the industry remains second to none.”

Nathan also explained that value in the company’s real estate has been unlocked through a series of innovative and business-beneficial deals and partnerships “with plenty more planned and in the pipeline”.

“I, and the rest of the senior team, are confident that the business will gain a great deal from the support and input of Capital & Counties,” he continued. “In the meantime, it’s very much business as usual. Our new partners will work with us to develop the venues, attract new, groundbreaking, market-leading and innovative events, and build on EC&O Venues’ position among the major players in the events industry. This is a genuinely exciting time for the company.”

Commenting on the establishment of the partnership, Lyons said “We came to this business with a plan to increase shareholder value whilst ensuring the safety of the assets, the future of the work force and the equity and reputation of the brand. We are delighted to have created this relationship with Liberty International which will enable EC&O Venues to build on its position as owner and operator of London’s leading event venues."

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