Trade show home sold to private investors in £300m deal

It might be playing host to the catering equipment industry this week, but the Birmingham NEC has just hit the headlines for another reason: it has just been sold to a private equity investor as part of a deal worth £300m.

Birmingham City Council confirmed that it has entered into a binding agreement for the sale of the NEC Group, which includes the exhibition centre, to LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.

Bringing the NEC Group under private ownership will enable the business to “maximise its growth opportunities and achieve its strategic potential”, according to the company.

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LDC was selected after an extensive sale process. The transaction maximises proceeds for Birmingham City Council and is consistent with the council’s vision for the NEC Group and the wider regional development.

LDC is providing the equity funding for the acquisition, with the provision of debt being led by Macquarie Bank.

The transaction values the NEC Group at around £307m, of which £15m of which will be in the form of a loan note, including the value of the leases of the Hilton Metropole and Crowne Plaza hotels on the NEC site which are being retained by the council.

The sale encompasses all NEC Group businesses, with the council providing a 125-year leasehold interest in the NEC site, including the NEC Exhibition halls, The Genting Arena (formerly the LG Arena) and the Resorts World development, and 25-year leasehold interests in the International Convention Centre and Barclaycard Arena.

The Barclaycard Arena was the recent subject of an extensive foodservice redevelopment as part of a major upgrade plan to improve the facility.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said the sale was a “landmark moment “in the history of the NEC.

He said: “We are very pleased to have attracted a Birmingham-based buyer in LDC that understands the local importance of the NEC and shares our vision for the future. This will ensure that the business goes from strength to strength, and that the NEC continues to play a leading role in the wider economic development of the region while securing Birmingham and the wider West Midlands’ position as the home for outstanding live events.”

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