Following the conclusion of a strategic review, Birmingham City Council has resolved to seek offers for the NEC Group.
Principal objectives of the proposed sale are to secure an investor who shares the vision and strategic ambitions of the NEC Group and to maximise the proceeds for Birmingham City Council.
Bringing the NEC Group under private ownership will enable the business to take full advantage of its growth opportunities and reach the next stage of its development.
The NEC Group is a vitally important contributor to the West Midlands economy, delivering an economic impact of over £2 billion per annum and supporting some 29,000 jobs in the region. Securing and enhancing this economic impact is a key objective for Birmingham City Council.
The City Council will invite potentially interested buyers to participate in a pre-qualification process while sale preparations are finalised.
In structuring a transaction, the City Council intends to ensure that the existing uses of the exhibition centre, International Convention Centre and two arenas (LG Arena and National Indoor Arena) are preserved. This will secure the profile of Birmingham and the broader West Midlands as a world-class home of a broad array of live events.
Since the opening of the National Exhibition Centre in 1976, with seed-corn investment from the City Council, the NEC Group has broadened its business and through the subsequent openings of the NEC Arena (1980), the International Convention Centre (1991) and the National Indoor Arena (1991), the Group has evolved into one of the world’s leading venue management companies.
In addition to its four venues, the NEC Group has successfully established a number of related businesses. These include a national ticketing agency (The Ticket Factory), a catering business (Amadeus) and NEC Group International which is taking its venue management expertise into the operation of third party-owned venues.
Private ownership will enable the NEC Group to grow further and faster and achieve its strategic potential. NEC Group has already shown its ability to attract private sector investment through its partnerships with LG, Barclaycard and Genting UK, but believes that further investment is required to accelerate its development.
The NEC Group has a highly-experienced management team, led since 2006 by Chief Executive Paul Thandi. During the seven years Paul has been Chief Executive the NEC Group has successfully built its brands and consolidated its position as a major force in the conference, exhibition and leisure markets.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, comments: “A key purpose of the City Council investing in establishing the NEC Group more than 30 years ago was to drive economic development and regeneration”.
“This has been achieved, but now the NEC Group has reached a point in its evolution where it needs to be able to adopt the financial disciplines of a private, rather than a council-owned company to enable the next stage of strategic development”.
Martin Angle, Chairman of the NEC Group, adds: “The NEC Group comprises four of the best-known and most well-established venues in the UK, located at the heart of England and boasting unrivalled accessibility by all modes of transport. The Group has weathered the challenging economic environment and has a clear vision for its future growth”.
“We look forward to working with Birmingham City Council in preparing the NEC Group for this major step forward and believe that its iconic status and portfolio of venues and businesses is likely to attract strong interest from potential buyers, from both the UK and overseas.”