There were just eight domestic trade show acquisitions in 2010 according to a report from CS Corporate Solutions, an M&A advisory firm specializing in the trade show, consumer show and trade publishing industries.
The majority of deals were small transactions for a single event, with Canon Communication’s $287 million sale to United Business Media the largest event-related deal of the year (while Canon’s 40+ events account for 48 percent of the company’s revenue and UBM’s primary interest is in leveraging Canon’s existing global tradeshow infrastructure to create similar events in China, India and Brazil, Canon also publishes 24 magazines, which account for 35 percent of its annual revenue).
Other deals included Northstar Travel Media’s purchase of the Travel Agent Show; Access Intelligence buying RETECH; Marketplace Events buying the Consumer Home Show; IHS taking over the Chemical Week trade shows from Access Intelligence and Nielsen buying Wedding Photographer.
The report says almost all trade show M&A revolved around strategic buyers snapping up smaller competitors with bolt-on acquisitions.
Valuations remained steady after falling from 8x-10x EBITDA in 2008 to 4x-6x EBITDA in 2009/2010.
CSmergers.com attributes the decline to "reduced sales and profits for events, evaporation of demand from buyers and the freezing of liquidity to finance transactions." "We expect that valuations will finally start to increase very slowly and modestly over the course of 2011, but will remain at levels much lower than wer were all accustomed to for many years," the report says.