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April 4, 2008

VSS acquires Clarion Events for £120m

The London based office of Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS), the New York private equity fund, has acquired Clarion Events for just over £120 million. The deal, which follows the HG Capital-funded management buyout led by CEO Simon Kimble in October 2004 for £45m, completes a remarkable chapter of growth for the company in just over three years that has seen it rocket up to 32nd in the Times Top 100 Fastrack Company Ratings with year-on-year growth in profits up 57%.


Clarion Events CEO Simon Kimble now has the
necessary funds to consolidate his UK business
and expand into other sectors

Following a strategic review in 2007, HG Capital expressed interest in scaling back their media investments and decided to market the company to trade and private equity buyers through the appointment of Close Brothers in October of last year. Today`s announcement sees the successful completion of that process and gives Kimble and his chief operating officer, Tim Pilcher, the necessary funds and support to consolidate its UK business while expanding into new sectors and international markets. These include the widely anticipated acquisition of the Reed portfolio of defence shows, including the ExCeL-based DSEi, and the Middle East respectively.

VSS is an exclusive media investor which currently owns Advanstar in the US, and formerly owned ITE and Centaur Publishing this side of the pond. They are no strangers to the current appetite within marketing departments for live communications, nor are they shy of risk which their well-oiled `Buy and Build Investment Strategy` has amply illustrated in the past. When let loose with agreed funds, Kimble will undoubtedly match his new owners aggressive stance to growth.


Pilcher has already proved the perfect foil, having seen through the acquisition of Amusement Trades Ltd under the previous ownership, which launched Clarion into the gaming sector both in the UK and overseas. The fact that the company`s last year profitability was accounted 50% through acquisition and 50% through organic growth demonstrates a healthy management approach and VSS will undoubtedly `encourage` their new assets over the next three to five years, to apply more and more of the same.

Former achitects of the Emap empire trade places as a part of the deal with Sir David Arculus replacing Sir Robin Miller as chairman.

See the exclusive interview with Simon Kimble on EVENTS:review shortly.

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