Birmingham City Council will seek offers for the NEC Group following a strategic review.
In a statement, the council said “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 city council will invite potentially interested buyers to participate in a pre-qualification process while sale preparations are finalised.
In structuring a transaction, the council wants to ensure that the existing uses of the exhibition centre, International Convention Centre and two arenas – LG Arena and National Indoor Arena – are preserved.
The city council also intends to retain claw-back rights over certain land at the main NEC site, so ensuring that it preserves potential future development value from a highly attractive site that will be adjacent to the Birmingham Interchange HS2 station.
“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,” said Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore.
“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. In doing so, economic impact and job creation can bepreserved and enhanced.
“An open sale process has been identified through an extensive strategic review process as the way to achieve full value for this internationally-renowned asset, whilst achieving the other principal objectives of enabling the Group to achieve its potential and growing economic impact.”
Birmingham City Council and the NEC Group have retained Gleacher Shacklock LLP as financial advisers and Wragge & Co LLP as legal advisers in relation to the sale process.
“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,” said NEC Group chairman Martin Angle.
“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.”
The NEC Group is a vitally important contributor to the West Midlands economy, delivering an economic impact of over £2 billion a year, while supporting around 29,000 jobs in the region.
The group has also attracted £140 million plus investment into Resorts World Birmingham from Genting UK, billed as the UK’s first integrated destination leisure complex.
In addition to its four venues, the NEC Group has successfully established a number of related businesses. These include national ticketing agency The Ticket Factory, catering business Amadeus and NEC Group International which is taking its venue management expertise into the operation of third party-owned venues.
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