LONDON and NEW YORK — If you have trade show assets to sell or a desire to form a joint venture partnership, you may want to check out a new partnership between New York-based private equity firm EagleTree Capital and Arc, a global events industry consortium led by Simon Foster. Canson Capital Partners, which has been providing financial advisory services to Arc, will do the same for the partnership.
The partnership plans to acquire events, as well as form joint venture partnerships with event organizers, associations and venues. It is specifically looking to work with strong brands in responsible and sustainable sectors that will deliver long-term value and growth. The ultimate goal is to make tactical investments in sector-leading brands that lead to data- and insight-centered industry communities, according to the partnership.
As 20-year exhibition and media industry veteran Simon Foster explained, “It’s no secret that the pandemic has been devastating for the events industry, but more importantly, it has shifted how people and organizations market themselves, how they find leads and build pipelines, and significantly, how people network.”
However, he added, the “why now” is not all about the effect of COVID-19 on the industry. “We have wanted to build a platform like this for years,” he said.
“Face-to-face events will, and are, coming back. More than ever, we will need to focus on the value of the business network. Exhibitors and attendees cannot rely on a once-a-year annual meeting. This is a trend we’ve been seeing in events for years,” Foster said. “I spoke with TSE in March 2019, about building brands, when I was CEO of Comexposium. At that time, I said data is where we were investing most of our time and energy. For any organization focused on connections, data and digital — capabilities and infrastructure, as well as customer insight — is key. That was just as true then as it is now.”
Foster said Arc’s aim will be to work with the digital platforms, the online marketplaces, the match-making tools and the content programs, as well as staying up to date on the new innovations in the events space. The idea, he added, is to “use those data-led/insight-focused tools to build, refresh, and reconnect industry communities, while keeping the excitement and serendipity of in-person meetings.”
Robert Gray, EagleTree’s Operating Partner, who worked with Foster when both were with UBM (now part of Informa PLC), said, “I love the events industry and am really pleased at this opportunity to partner with Simon in a new venture. My colleagues at EagleTree have been investing in and supporting the media and events space for many years, with Sparks, Moss, Northstar, ALM and Penton, as notable examples. We know the sector well, believe that face-to-face events will continue as an invaluable element of the sales and marketing landscape, and share Simon’s view that events must serve their communities year round through smart, connected media and digital products.”
He added, “We think it’s a great time to invest in the industry, especially since the unprecedented pandemic crisis we’ve lived through has reinforced how important it is to serve communities beyond the annual trade show. Arc will seek out strong assets in growth verticals and invest with a focus on long-term growth of its brands and platform. EagleTree has a long tradition of backing entrepreneurs and management teams. We’re excited to be working with Simon, and it’s important to note that Arc looks forward to developing similar partnerships with the teams who join us.”