Hanley Wood has agreed to sell its exhibition businesses to Informa, a U.K.-based publishing and events company, for $375 million. The sale is expected to close by the end of 2014.
The deal involves 17 trade shows and events across the real estate, design and construction communities, including World of Concrete, The International Surface Event and the recently-purchased Greenbuild Conference & Expo.
The group's 2014 revenue was $67.7 million with EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization; a common metric for evaluating company size and performance) of $34.4 million, according to Informa. With a $375-million price tag, the sale was for nearly 11-times EBITDA – considered a high multiple for events businesses.
The properties will be rebranded to Informa Exhibitions U.S., but will remain based in the U.S. under the continued leadership of Rick McConnell, president of the group. The businesses are expected to complement Informa's existing portfolio of shows in similar verticals around the world, including a collection of U.S. shows it acquired when it bought Virgo Publishing in July.
Hanley Wood will also continue in its role as “the official media and information provider to the various events we have supported” for at least the next 10 years, according to statements from each company.
Peter Goldstone, Hanley Wood's CEO, tells FOLIO: that the company wasn't necessarily looking to sell its exhibitions, but a rebounding housing market made the properties valuable.
“We've been getting calls about the business for a long time,” he says. “The country is on the verge of serious market recovery and we have the dominant platforms.”
Hanley Wood is still a $100 million company, and with 30 smaller, targeted shows, it remains in the events business, but Goldstone says it's transitioning to information and marketing services. He cites its 2013 purchase of research firm, Metrostudy, as a transformational moment.”
Most of the investment activity from the capital associated with this sale will go toward product development or acquisitions to strengthen its data platforms, Goldstone adds.
– Michael Rondon and Bill Mickey