VSS sells Advanstar to UBM for $972m

The New York-based firm plans to continue looking for opportunities in events management

New York-based Veronis Suhler Stevenson has exited its interest in events management company Advanstar for $ 972 million in cash. The company was acquired by UBM, a strategic buyer with a significant events management vertical.

Advanstar is an US events management company which focuses on events in fashion, life sciences and powersports. Advanstar operates 54 tradeshows and approximately 100 conferences. Advanstar’s fashion events – MAGIC Marketplace, held in Las Vegas and Fashion Coterie, held in New York, are two of the most well attended fashion events each year.

VSS first acquired Advanstar in 2007 from New York-based private equity fund DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, an affiliate of Credit Suisse, for approximately $1.142 billion in cash. Citigroup Private Equity and New York Life Capital Partners were co-sponsors in the original transaction.

At that time, Advanstar also maintained a print publications business and carried debt. VSS exited the company without that debt, and a paired down print business. “We see strong growth in the trade show space,” Jeffery Stevenson, managing director, VSS told Private Equity International. “When these businesses have a significant commercial component like Advanstar there is a significant opportunity.”

With the transaction, UBM is poised to become the top player in fashion industry events – a new vertical for the company. The deal will also make UBM the number one events company in the US.

“We think there is a strong expansion opportunity for the Advanstar team in terms of being able to create additional events, add markets, and more niche coverage,” added Chris Russell, partner, VSS.

Advanstar's CEO, Joe Loggia, will continue to manage the Advanstar business within UBM and will report directly to UBM CEO Tim Cobbold for a transitional period. The transaction is slated to close later this year.

VSS is currently in market with its third structured capital fund, that fund has a $300 million target according to Private Equity International's research and analytics division.