Nielsen Expositions Sells for $950 Million

Onex Corp., a Toronto-based private equity firm, has acquired Nielsen Expositions for $950 million in cash considerations, according to a statement from Nielsen this morning.

The announcement comes almost two months after Expo first reported parent company Nielsen Holdings N.V. was exploring a sale.

“Onex’ experience and successful track record in executing similar corporate carve-outs and building those divisions into industry-leading businesses position it as a strong partner," David Loechner, president of Nielsen Expositions, says in a statement. "We look forward to working with Onex to execute our strategic plan and to continue to grow the business to better serve the exhibitors and attendees who participate in our events, all the while providing a seamless, business-as-usual transition for our clients and associates.”

In 2012, Nielsen’s expo division had revenue of approximately $183 million with adjusted EBITDA of $97 million. Those earnings account for about 3 percent of Nielsen Holdings’ total, according to the company’s annual report.

Nielsen Holdings CFO Brian West says the cash deal will allow Nielsen to reduce the amount of debt it might have incurred with the pending acquisition of Arbitron. That deal, announced in December, is still in the regulatory process and West would not estimate when it will close. Nevertheless, he says, it will reduce substantially the $1.3 billion in debt he estimated would be needed for the Arbitron acquisition.

"We’ve always said for the better part of two years that the expositions, while we loved it, was non-core," West adds. "If the opportunity presented itself, we would take a hard look at it, and we did."

Organizing more than 65 tradeshows and events each year, the unit’s major holdings include ASD, the Hospitality Design Expo (HD Expo), the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Markets and Interbike. According to its annual report, Nielsen Expositions is spread across 20 industries and connects 300,000 buyers and sellers each year.

Nielsen Expositions suffered a 7-percent decline in revenues, according its recent first quarter earnings report.

Onex, with offices in Toronto, London and New York, has about $15 billion of assets under its management. Its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

“Nielsen Expositions’ strength in the U.S. business-to-business tradeshow industry is evidenced by its high renewal rates, long-standing exhibitor relationships, and the brand strength of the underlying shows,” Kosty Gilis, an Onex managing director, says in a statement. “This is a great opportunity to partner with David and his management team to build on the company’s market leadership position through continued expansion of its existing shows as well as select acquisitions.”

Nielsen says the sale is expected to close in the second quarter.

According to  West, the deal will allow the parent company to focus on its consumer-monitoring businesses.

“Nielsen is committed to investing in and developing capabilities across our Watch and Buy segments,” he says in a statement. “Divesting the Expositions business allows us to focus on these core areas that provide our clients with a comprehensive understanding of consumers while providing more flexibility to return capital to our shareholders over time.”

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Posted by Michael Hart

Michael Hart is the executive editor of Expo. Reach him at View all articles by Michael Hart →