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Blackstone rides to support of Horse Show-owner Clarion

Written by on 26/10/2020

The owner of the events company behind the London International Horse Show is riding to its support with a $100m (£80m) financing package to help it weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sky News has learnt that Blackstone, which acquired Clarion Events in 2017 in a £600m deal, has agreed in recent days to provide the additional funding.

City sources said the money would be used to support Clarion through the losses incurred by the COVID-19 crisis, which has prompted thousands of major shows and exhibitions to be postponed or cancelled since the spring.

They added, however, that part of the new financing would be made available to pursue acquisitions of digitally-led events companies, helping Clarion to reorient its business model amid uncertainty about the longer-term impact on the sector.

Clarion organises a wide 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.

Leading events industry venues including Birmingham’s NEC – which is also owned by Blackstone – wrote to the prime minister and chancellor earlier this month to warn that the industry faced an “existential threat” without urgent government support.

The share prices of listed exhibitors such as Informa have fallen sharply during the pandemic because of its impact on sales and the lack of clarity about their outlook.

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Informa raised £1bn from shareholders in April, marking the biggest coronavirus-related cash call by a UK company at that time, but there are growing expectations that a number of listed companies which raised money during the first wave of the pandemic may have to turn to investors again.

Banking sources pointed out that private equity firms which invest across a medium-term horizon can in some cases respond more quickly and more often to the refinancing requirements of their portfolio companies.

Sky News revealed last month that Blackstone, alongside the NEC’s other shareholders, had also stepped in to provide £50m of new capital to the owner of some of Britain’s biggest events venues.

Blackstone declined to comment.

 Sky News

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