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M&Awww.exhibitionnews.co.uk 15DEALMAKERSIn his final column for 2011, Steve Monnington wraps up the year in mergers and acquisitions and outlines his predictions for activity in 2012t has been a quiet month for acquisitions with only Reed Exhibitions' active with the acquisition of Business Travel Market, a London-based exhibition launched in 2009 by Paul Robin. So given this circumstance and the time of year, it seemed a good moment to look back on what has happened during 2011. In this column at the end of 2010 I predicted some things that happened and some that didn't. Firstly, I expected continued investment in Brazil and Turkey with new players entering both markets. In Brazil, Reed, Informa and Fiera Milano all made sizeable acquisitions and Turkey also didn't disappoint with acquisitions by ITE and Tarsus Group. For Informa and Tarsus, these were game-changing deals for their presence in these respective territories and will lay the foundation for both organic and acquisition-related growth.I also expected multiples to continue to rise and this came to pass. However, a number of organisers have expressed concern that the recent high multiples paid, particularly in Brazil, have overheated the market and resulted in unrealistic price expectations from some of the smaller local organisers. I also predicted the start of acquisition activity in Mexico, other parts of Latin America and Africa and this hasn't happened - at least not yet. Overall in 2011 there were 43 exhibition transactions in 12 countries by 29 different purchasers. As well as Brazil and Turkey there were deals in the UK, USA, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Hong Kong, Australia and India as well as a couple in South East Asia. When it comes to purchasers, we are used to seeing the 'usual suspects' such as Reed, UBM, Informa and Clarion. In contrast, this year was most notable for the number and diversity of purchasers, with several of the small and medium-sized organisers particularly active. This clearly demonstrates how acquisitions have become much more strategic. In the UK, there were 14 transactions involving companies such as CloserStill Media (with three separate transactions), Diversified Business Communications, William Reed Business Media, Centaur, Brintex and Montgomery. The business that received most headlines was UBM's acquisition of Ecobuild and its promise of a 'geocloning' strategy.The most active sector was energy. Reed acquired All Energy in the UK and Multiplus and Santos Offshore in Brazil while Clarion acquired European-based conference Energynet and CloserStill Media acquired the UK-based Biofuels Media.Activity in Asia was fairly muted, with UBM Asia the most active following a couple of small acquisitions in India and one in South East Asia. So what can we look forward to for 2012? I expect the geographical spread of deals and the range of buyers to be more or less the same as it was in 2011. The high level of acquisition activity in Turkey will continue and there will be ongoing interest in Brazil, albeit at a lower level. But I'm not going to stick my neck out again on other parts of Latin America - I think this is a longer process.Asia should start to see more acquisition activity with countries such as Indonesia and South Korea joining Hong Kong, Singapore and China and there should also be a rising interest in the African continent, starting with South Africa.I'm always asked - but what about the mega-deals? This is the hardest area to predict. However there is a lot of private equity money around looking for a home so we should see some action in this area.- Steve Monnington is the MD of Mayfield Media Strategies. I

veryone loves a good news story and none more so than the directors of events in the consumer exhibitions industry. Consumer events, without that reputation for catalysing domestic and international trade, have had a harder time than their B2B counterparts. Not many have escaped unscathed and fewer still can honestly claim to have made progress in the years since 2008. Not so MCM Expo Group (MCM), organiser of six of the UK's most successful consumer exhibitions, a portfolio of pop culture shows led by the 27,000sqm MCM Expo London Comic Con at Excel. This year the event, a celebration of pop culture, movies, graphic novels, video games and related merchandise, expanded its comic village and launched a London edition of its Memorabilia event.According to co-organiser Bryan Cooney, the market it occupies is one of the few to emerge from the recession relatively unscathed. "In 2005 it was very much a collectors event. But we started to target video games and manga [Japanese fantasy and sci-fi cartoons]," he said. "The knock-on effect is that we began seeing a transition of our brand away from straightforward comics and movies and our audience became much bigger."Our growth started when we targeted those markets. Each year the show has grown around 15 per cent. We were at Excel when it opened and back then we had 4,000sqm in total. Today we have 27,000sqm split between the show floor [17,000sqm] and the queuing hall [10,000sqm]."At launch, MCM stood for movies, comics and memorabilia. But today the company owes its success to much more than this and has expanded on the concept. MCM has since launched two standalone events for its memorabilia section, held in Birmingham. In addition to this, MCM began targeting 'cosplay', whereby people dress up as their favourite characters from cartoons, video games or other pop culture franchises popular with the show's audience. "These guys meet a lot of each other on Facebook, but while Facebook offers many things, it can't help them get together and dress up as their favourite characters," said Cooney. Whether including cosplay manifests as additional business or not at the stands has little bearing on the exhibition. As a consumer event, the attendance of a thousand brightly dressed cosplay aficionados has a sizeable impact on revenues. Cooney claims MCM Expo London Comic Con is now Europe's most prominent cosplay stage, staging the EuroCosplay Championships for the past two years, won, incidentally, by the UK in 2011. There will also be a Birmingham edition of the MCM Expo at The NEC, giving MCM five comic con-type events with two others in Telford and Manchester.Of course there are other players in the comic con and memorabilia sphere in the UK. Showmasters SHOW CASE16 www.exhibitionnews.co.ukvery pop culturecan comic and fanboy events really be recession-proof? Antony Reeve-Crook speaks to McM expo Group's Bryan cooney about leading the way in one of the uK industry's most successful sectors Eruns London Film and Comic Con, as well as Collectormania, a host of events for collectors of merchandise and signatures. However at these events tables, rather than stands, are the order of the day. Showmasters looked to enter MCM's sector boldly with the launch of a new event, the Entertainment Media Show (EMS), but this was cancelled earlier in the year.Clarion perhaps came closest to challenging MCM with its summer event Empire Presents Big Screen, a joint collaboration with UK film magazine Empire. Time will tell if that event can make an impact on MCM Expo London Comic Con, but with Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Warner Bros and Universal among MCM's partners, that is no mean feat.Cooney said the MCM business model is a success because there's a lot on offer for the price of admission. "Shows such as ours, the Gadget Show and the Ideal Home Show offer a lot back - a place to meet like-minded people and experience the products without spending any additional money; something the students and kids who make up a lot of our visitors don't have in great supply," he claimed.Comic fan or not, MCM must be one of the more tempting acquisitions in the UK at the moment.