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April 4, 2008

Tarsus snaps up major Dubai event business

Middle East-focused exhibition organiser Fairs and Exhibitions (F&E) has been the latest target in a flurry of current merger and acquisition activity in the events industry.

Tarsus Group plc, the international business-to-business media group with interests in exhibitions, conferences, publishing and online media, recently announced the acquisition of 100% of the share capital of The WR Kern Organisation, the UK-based holding company of F&E, its sole operating company.

F&E was founded in 1958 and has been focused on the Middle East since 1976. It is one of the largest exhibition organisers in Dubai with eight events covering three principal industry sectors: aviation (including the Dubai Airshow, Middle East Business Aviation, Aircraft Interiors Middle East and Aviation Maintenance Repair Overhaul), printing and packaging (Gulf Print, Gulf Pack and Label Tech) and education (Gulf Education Supplies), covering approximately 50,000 net square metres in total.

“This acquisition presents Tarsus with a unique opportunity to accelerate our strategy of expansion into fast growing markets,” said the company’s group managing director Douglas Emslie. “It will also allow us to extend our core brands into a new geographic territory.

“The world renowned Dubai Airshow is now Tarsus’ largest event and immediately gives us scale and exposure in the Middle East. This region, and in particular Dubai, is expected to benefit further in the future from new exhibition venues and infrastructure developments. Opportunities to purchase exhibition companies of meaningful size in this region are scarce, and F&E, with its long established management and definitive products, is rare.

“It is our intention to focus on Dubai as we develop our business in the Middle East under the existing management of Virginia Kern and the F&E team. We particularly look forward to working with the Department of Civil Aviation in Dubai to further strengthen the aviation portfolio to the benefit of the dynamic Dubai economy.”

Commenting on the acquisition, Virginia Kern, chairman of F&E, said: “Although F&E has been targeted for acquisition before, the synergy has never felt quite right. The difference with Tarsus that particularly attracted me was the similarity to F&E in its entrepreneurial management style. Having the resource and support of a plc will enable F&E’s portfolio to go from strength to strength, whereas F&E’s 30 years’ experience in the Middle East will help fast-track Tarsus into one of the most dynamic events markets in the world.”

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