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M&Awww.exhibitionnews.co.uk 17MAKING IT WORKIn this new case study series, Steve Monnington analyses how show and business success is secured after the merger or acquisition is done and ways to set your expectationsvery issue, my Dealmakers column summarises the acquisitions concluded over the past month. But it's after the contracts are signed that the hard work really begins. In this new quarterly feature, I'll be looking at the challenges facing purchasers in making acquisitions work. Emap's acquisition of Professional Beauty highlighted the challenges in taking over a brand that is closely associated with the former owner. The sale of Ocean Media and then buy-back by Dave Moran and Ion Equity shows the perils for purchasers of paying high prices backed by bank fi nance. These are the exceptions rather than the rule however, and most acquisitions thrive under their new ownership. Acquisitions over the last few years have generally been small and strategic and this creates different challenges. The ability for a purchaser to add signifi cant value to a small business requires clear strategic vision, an understanding of how to unlock the potential, and the committing of costly resources often out of proportion to the size of business being acquired. SILVER LINING IN THE CLOUDOne of the most successful examples is the acquisition of Cloud Expo Europe (pictured) by CloserStill Media in April 2011. Former owner, Maggie Meer, operated as a one-man band and although loved by the industry, didn't have the resources to grow in line with the potential offered by the cloud sector. Cloud Expo's fi rst-year revenue barely got into six fi gures but the sector was an attractive one CloserStill knew well, according to MD Andy Center. "We were fairly confi dent we could make a difference," he explained. "There were obvious downsides - it's very competitive and we could have spent a lot of time creating nothing. Maggie didn't have enough money or resources but she had great vision and therefore had a toe-hold in the sector. "Even with such a small event she was really punching above her weight in terms of the industry support she had." For Meer, CloserStill offered the opportunity to secure Cloud Expo's growth and fi nancial future."I couldn't continue to run the show on my own, not just because of lack of money but also because of health issues," she said. "Andy simply asked me what I needed to make it work. We created a plan to achieve the end-game we both saw."Structuring this type of deal is always tricky because of the low level of profi t and high level of risk. This means the acquisition value is inevitably deferred and is heavily based on future results. Meer had to accept a token amount of money upfront and the promise of a much larger sum if the event showed signifi cant growth.Strong competition also meant all the planning had to be in place before the deal was signed. "We used our commercial due diligence to set the strategy and determine the resources we needed so that on day one we knew exactly what we needed to do," Center continued. "For Cloud Expo, it was about top-level strategic thinking, more sales muscle and rebranding. All of this was in place when we signed the contracts."Despite the pre-planning, it wasn't plain sailing. "We made the acquisition on 14 April but it wasn't until mid-September that it started to fl y so we had to hold our nerve for four or fi ve months," Center recalled. At that stage, there were 30 to 40 exhibitors; nowhere near critical mass. What Meer had was a great conference programme, several confi rmed big-name speakers and an extensive marketing plan. "From then on we just couldn't stop selling," she added.LESSON LEARNTAcquisition integration isn't just about planning for the show's future - there is also the human element. How to preserve entrepreneurial spirit is always a challenge for larger organisations, Center claimed. "Maggie is a handful but working with mavericks is our strong point," he said. "She came in with a great attitude and within weeks she was one of the most popular people in the offi ce."It was also a major change for Meer, who had always worked on her own. "I didn't want to work in a large offi ce, I wasn't even sure what to wear and I dreaded having to relinquish control," she explained. "However, they gave me a great team of people - Phil Nelson, Sophie Baker and Thomas Standley - and because of all the planning during the acquisition process, it felt completely natural."CloserStill's faith in Cloud Expo and rigorous pre-planning resulted in a 600 per cent increase in revenue year-on-year, a rise in exhibitors from 30 to 90, and 4,505 visitors (up from 1,058). Revenue is expected to grow signifi cantly again for the next edition to well over £1m. Overall, Meer described the sale to CloserStill as "the best decision of my life both fi nancially and in realising Cloud Expo's true potential".- Steve Monnington is the MD of Mayfi eld Media Strategies. E

INTERVIEW18 www.exhibitionnews.co.ukof Oil and Gas, and all those brands went with us into Kazakhstan. We then asked clients where they wanted to go next, and that's how we started cloning shows. ITE was a thrill. We literally went from one show to close to 120 in eight years, all of which came through organic growth. That's why I was proud my father received the Exhibition News Pioneer Award this year - he deserved it. What did you do after ite Group?We built the business up to more than 600 people in 18 international offices, then my father and uncle decided to sell. My father, who genuinely thrives at the beginning of a business and growing it to a certain size, likes to sell it at the point where it can step up to another level. So we took it public and I stayed on as CEO afterwards for two years. Chief of i2i Events Group (formerly Emap Connect) Mark Shashoua is a man with a mission: To take its brands abroad. Here, he talks to EN about how the new-look group will become a global powerhouseTHE nExT fronTiErhCzech Republic, then we moved into Russia. I got involved in the Oil and Gas shows in the early 1990s in Moscow and Kazakhstan, when we were the first to do an international exhibition. Those were the days of real pioneering across multiple markets. We were probably one of the first people to come up with the concept of 'geocloning', although we just called it cloning then. That happened by accident. We were doing the Moscow Oil and Gas exhibition with a lot of the big international players including Mobil, Exxon and British Gas. Our strength, especially then, was being very close to the customers. Given we were doing the Moscow show, they asked us to help them by doing something in Kazakhstan just as the country was breaking away from the USSR and when no one had heard of it. We said we'd do it if they exhibited, so we got the rights to do the show from the ministry oW did you Get your Start in the exhibition induStry?Through my father, who has been doing this since before I was born. I can't just say exhibitions either - he has pretty much done it all. He was the first in the Middle East in the 1970s, China in the 1980s, and Eastern Europe in the 1990s. As I was growing up I helped out on these events. My first real involvement was when I graduated. My father was setting up a new business, which effectively became ITE Group, and it was literally him as the ideas man and my uncle as finance director and organiser. I learnt the trade that way and I feel very privileged to have done so. have you alWayS had an international eventS focuS?Always, 100 per cent. My first event was in the