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Blackstone buys Clarion for $780M

Officials have announced that U.S.-based Blackstone, a private equity firm based in New York, has acquired U.K.-based Clarion Events, a global event organizer, for $780 million. The acquisition will make Blackstone one of the largest event organizers operating in the United Kingdom. Clarion was previously owned by Providence Equity Firm, which purchased the company in 2015.

Headquartered in London with more than 950 employees in 13 offices worldwide, Clarion operates and delivers more than 180 events and exhibitions in more than 50 countries globally. Since its formation in 1947, Clarion has grown into an international business with a diversified portfolio of events and brands including retail & home, gaming, defense and security, technology, and energy.

“We are delighted to invest in Clarion and back Chairman Simon Kimble and CEO Russell Wilcox in the company’s next chapter,” said Lionel Assant, head of European Private Equity at Blackstone.  “Clarion’s leading position in its markets combined with its strong management team will enable the company to continue growing both organically and through M&A.  Blackstone has a significant track record of investing in media businesses as well as buy and build platforms.  We look forward to working together with management to capitalize on its success.”

Andrew Tisdale, managing director at Providence, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with the outstanding team at Clarion.  They have delivered both impressive organic growth and executed a compelling acquisition strategy.  Clarion has developed an exceptional entrepreneurial culture, and we feel fortunate to have worked with them so closely.  We believe and fully support their strategy and its ongoing implementation – and are pleased to have the option to participate in Clarion’s future success.”

Providence, which invested in Clarion in 2015, has an option to reinvest a portion of its proceeds from the sale into Clarion.

Russell Wilcox, CEO of Clarion Events, added: “We are extremely excited about our new partnership with Blackstone and see a great future going forward.  The management team has enjoyed an immensely productive and successful relationship with Providence, who have been tremendous partners over the last two years.  We have been impressed with Blackstone’s ambition and approach.  With their support and strategic leadership, we will be looking to expand our global platform even further, both through consistent organic growth and the successful integration of acquisitions into the portfolio.”

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