The company behind the London International Horse Show is close to acquiring a leading organiser of one-to-one meetings for senior executives, as the industry continues its recovery from the pandemic.
Sky News understands that Clarion Events, which is majority-owned by the private equity giant Blackstone, is about to buy Consero, which specialises in in-person and virtual events for legal and human resources executives.
The deal, which is expected in the coming days, comes as Blackstone invests another £20m of equity into the Clarion business to support its evolving post-pandemic business model.
Blackstone acquired Clarion Events in 2017 in a £600m deal, injecting roughly £80m into the business a year ago to help it weather the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
Thousands of shows were cancelled last year, forcing many events groups to raise new funding to stay afloat.
While in-person events have resumed, there is now intensive interest from companies such as Clarion in buying assets with a focus on digital and hybrid events.
Clarion organises an array of events, including the Arts and Antiques Show, the Baby to Toddler Show, Electronic Warfare Europe, and Global Sources Fashion, which takes place annually in Hong Kong.
Listed exhibition groups including Informa and Hyve have tapped shareholders for new funding during the pandemic, while private equity firms such as Blackstone have been able to respond quickly to the refinancing requirements of portfolio companies like Clarion and NEC.
The acquisition of Consero – which will involve the company’s founders retaining a minority stake and remaining at the helm – will further diversify Clarion’s operations, according to one insider.
Roughly 7,000 people attended events organised by Consero last year, with revenues rising by about 20%, the insider added.
Blackstone declined to comment.