The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is being reported that Blackstone pre-empted the second round of an auction for Clarion by submitting a £600 million bid to Providence. Rival bidders included Cinven and Xio, the Chinese investment company.
Founded in 1947, headquartered in London and with almost 1000 employees in 13 offices worldwide, Clarion operates over 180 events and exhibitions in more than 50 countries globally across a range of vertical markets, including Retail & Home, Gaming, Defence and Security, Technology and Energy. Clarion’s best known events include The Olympia Horse Show, House & Garden Show and the Conde Nast Traveller Luxury Fair.
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.”
Providence, which acquired Clarion in 2015 for around £200 million, 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.”
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