Tradeshows Merge at Faster Clip in 2012

Two recent reports suggest that tradeshow mergers and acquisitions happened at a much faster rate in 2012 than in prior recession-laden years.

If in the past couple of months it seemed like the tradeshow merger news was showing up more often than usual, there’s a reason for that.

According to a new report from merger-and-acquisition-focused firm Corporate Solutions, the volume of activity on this front was more than twice as high as it was in 2011, and deals took place at a much faster pace during the fourth quarter.

For the first time in the past several years, there [was] a mix of small, medium, and larger size transactions.

“It was a much more active year for domestic tradeshow acquisitions, with 25 deals that closed in 2012,” according to a statement from Corporate Solutions, first reported by Folio. “This was more than double the volume from the 10 deals closed in the year prior. For the first time in the past several years, there [was] a mix of small, medium, and larger size transactions.”

Another recent report on the tradeshow and conference space—from the Jordan, Edmiston Group (JEGI), an investment banking group—shows the same trend. JEGI, which said it saw growth nearly doubling in its study, pinpointed 50 deals worth a cumulative $874 million, according to Expo.

Among the highlights from the two reports:

Fourth-quarter speedup: Of the deals that took place in 2012, many happened between September and December. Expo, writing about JEGI’s report, suggests that many of parties involved may have preferred to complete the deals before the end of the year in order to avoid potential changes to the tax code in 2013.

The weak spots: While the industry is looking stronger—“The M&A market, like all other industries, is cyclical, and we certainly have seen the bottom in the market back in the first quarter of 2011,” Corporate Solutions claimed in its study—some factors, such as the move to digital and the slow economic recovery, are still challenging the industry.

Is digital a threat? Tolman Geffs, one of JEGI’s co-presidents, suggests that in-person meetings don’t face the same dangers other disrupted mediums do. “Live person-to-person marketing remains the most effective form and the form that is innovating, but not easily disrupted by digital,” Geffs said. “Certainly, exhibition and conference operators are leveraging digital in some interesting ways, but it doesn’t replace face-to-face quite the way that, for example, the internet blew away the classifieds business.”

Do you think the tradeshow sector will continue to do well into 2013? And how are things looking in your neck of the woods? Let us know in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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