Providence Equity Partners Acquires U.K. Event Organizer Hyve Group for $579 Million

March 16, 2023

London, U.K.-based event organizer Hyve Group has been sold to media-focused equity investment firm Providence Equity Partners, based in Providence, R.I.  

In a joint statement, Providence Equity Partners said it had agreed to a buyout deal paying $1.30 (£1.08) in cash for each Hyve share — a bid that gives the international event organizer an equity value of more than $386 million (£320 million) and an enterprise value of $579 million (£481 million). Hyve had previously rejected two offers from Providence worth $1.22 (£1.01) and $1.26 (£1.05) per share. 

This is the third largest acquisition deal to hit the trade show and events industry in the last week alone, right on the heels of Blackstone’s March 14 announcement that it had acquired Cvent for $4.6 billion and Informa’s acquisition of Tarsus Group for $940 million on March 9. 

Shares in Hyve, which currently organizes 33 trade shows and events across 11 countries and employs more than 600 people across 10 offices, jumped more than 12% to $1.35 (£1.12) each in early trading at the news.

“The board believes the offer represents value for shareholders and that Providence, with their knowledge of the sector and belief in the business and management team, will be a good partner for Hyve,” said Richard Last, chair of Hyve. “I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the exceptional contribution of our people, whose commitment and hard work have fundamentally changed Hyve for the better and place us at the forefront of our industry.” 

Hyve shares were worth $7.36 (£6.10) in Jan. 2020 before COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions caused sales to plummet. After that, the company pivoted to holding some events virtually, such as the Pure London fashion trade show. The international organizer took a further hit a year ago when it made the decision to pull out of Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It has also sold its Ukrainian and Turkish businesses.

Hyve organizes events in 11 countries under brands including Shoptalk, Spring Fair, Bett, Mining Indaba and the recently acquired Fintech Meetup. The organizer was co-founded in 1991 under the name ITE Group by CEO Mark Shashoua, who left in 1999 and then returned again as CEO in 2017 to transform the business from a sprawling portfolio to one focused on market-leading events.

Providence Equity specializes in media, communications, education and technology investments, including the U.K.’s Ambassador Theatre Group and U.S. firms Warner Music Group and Western Wireless Corporation (now AT&T Corp). It has also invested in the U.K. events sector, having been the majority shareholder of CloserStill Media since 2018 and previously investing in Clarion Events and GLM.

“Providence believes that Hyve has established a strong platform for future organic and inorganic growth underpinned by Hyve's portfolio of high-quality global brands and market-leading events focused on developed markets and in growing sectors,” said Providence Equity officials in a statement. 

The firm added that it would support Hyve by providing the capital for expansion and acquisitions to help it realize its “full growth potential.” 

Hyve made revenues of $148 million (£122 million) last year, up from more than $26 million (£21.8 million) in 2021, and a pre-tax profit of almost $14 million (£11.5 million). The company said a number of events had outperformed pre-pandemic levels.

The Hyve directors and a major shareholder Strategic Value Partners, which holds almost 17% of Hyve, have committed to voting in favor of the takeover. If shareholders approve, the deal is expected to be completed in May.

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