Providence acquires GLM for $173m

UK newspaper group Daily Mail and General Trust has sold its US-based trade show management business to media specialist Providence Equity Partners.

Global private equity firm Providence Equity Partners has agreed to acquire George Little Management (GLM), a retail-focused events management business, from UK media group Daily Mail and General Trust in a $173 million deal expected to close by the end of September. Weil, Gotshal & Manges advised Providence on the deal. 

The deal comes as Providence works to secure commitments for its latest buyout fund, Providence Equity Partners VII, for which it hopes to raise at least $6 billion. The firm held a first close for the fund earlier this year on $1.9 billion, allowing it to begin deploying capital. Providence could not be reached for comment on the fundraising at press time.

Providence has appointed Charles McCurdy to lead GLM once the buyout completes. McCurdy has more than 30 years of specialised experience in the industry and was previously chief executive at events business Canon Communications. Under his leadership, Canon doubled in size.

Despite concerns that the internet has had a damaging effect on the conference and trade show industry, expressed privately to Private Equity International by an industry participant, Providence evidently believes there is still mileage in the sector. 

Michael Dominguez, a managing director at Providence who worked on the deal, said: “We believe there are significant opportunities to grow GLM’s trade show brands in the US and internationally, both organically and through acquisition, as well as to develop exciting new digital and data services.”

The sale by DMGT is part of the media group’s move away from consumer-based operations in order to focus on what it considers more lucrative prospects. Earlier this month, for example, it offloaded a loss-making Indian subsidiary, the geographic information unit of Risk Management Solutions. However, Providence seems confident that its acquisition will pay off, looking forward towards growth and development. 

Questions have been raised by some investors about Providence’s ability to generate returns from its larger funds, as revealed by Private Equity International in April this year. However, the firm’s sale of Swedish television, broadband and telephone company Com Hem, co-owned with The Carlyle Group, last month for €1.9 billion, will have come as a welcome boost in its bid to garner further commitments for its new fund.