Outdoor Retailer, Interbike, HFB and other trade shows selling to private equity firm for $950 million

Nielsen Expositions is under contract to sell to Canadian private-equity firm Onex Corp.
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Nielsen Expositions, owner and operator of Outdoor Retailer, Interbike and Health & Fitness Business, among other trade shows, is under contract to sell to Canadian private-equity firm Onex Corp. for $950 million.

The nearly billon-dollar deal, expected to close sometime in the second quarter, valued the San Juan Capistrano, Calif. trade-show operations at five-times its 2012 sales ($183 million) and nearly 10-times operating profit ($97 million).

Nielsen Expositions runs more than 65 trade shows and conference events, focused on sports, fitness, health care, photography and other specialty industries. It employs about 240 employees out of four U.S. offices.

Outdoor Retailer Trade Show Director Kenji Haroutunian told SNEWS that the deal isn't expected to directly affect any of the trade shows like Outdoor Retailer in the near term.

"For OR, we're signed with Salt Lake City through 2016 and OIA through 2022," he said. "Those are really the structures that the show is built on."

Outdoor Retailer and OIA recently endorsed a short-term extension deal to keep Summer and Winter Market in Salt Lake City through 2016.

Overall, Haroutunian said sentiment at Nielsen Expositions is positive following news of the deal. "There's the feeling that we will get to be more of our own company," he said. "If you look at their [Onex's] track record and the groups involved, we're excited. Nielsen was a great [parent] company to work for and you learn a lot of valuable skills, but it wasn't necessarily focused on trade shows ... we were a small part of the business."

That's not to say Nielsen Expositions won't be a small part of Onex too. Toronto, Canada-based firm manages $15 billon in assets within its portfolio, including health-care, insurance and credit services, along with electronic, building, and industrial manufacturers. But as part of a diverse private-equity portfolio, the trade show business likely will stand more on its own.

“Onex’ experience and successful track record in executing similar corporate carve-outs and building those divisions into industry-leading businesses position it as a strong partner,” said Nielsen Expositions President David Loechner. “We look forward to working with Onex to execute our strategic plan and to continue to grow the business to better serve the exhibitors and attendees who participate in our events, all the while providing a seamless, business-as-usual transition for our clients and associates.”

Officials with Nielsen, best known for its TV ratings, said the company is selling the smaller Nielsen Expositions division to Onex to focus on its core “watch and buy” business segments.

--David Clucas

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