Birmingham NEC Group acquired by LDC

Birmingham-based venue management company The NEC Group has been sold to management buyout firm LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, for approximately £307m.

LDC's CEO Martin Draper, NEC Group's CEO Paul Thandi and LDC's director Steve Aston
LDC's CEO Martin Draper, NEC Group's CEO Paul Thandi and LDC's director Steve Aston

The NEC Group will now operate as a private business, having previously been under the ownership of Birmingham City Council.

LDC has taken control of the business and its venues, including the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), the International Convention Centre (ICC), and the recently rebranded Barclaycard Arena. Some £15m of the sale is in the form of a loan note, including the value of the leases of the Hilton Metropole and Crown Plaza hotels on the NEC site, which are being retained by the council.

LDC is providing the equity funding for the acquisition, with the provision of debt being led by Macquarie Bank.

Birmingham City Council has said LDC was selected as a buyer after an extensive sale process. It hopes the new private ownership will maximise its growth opportunities and achieve its full potentials.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "The announcement of a new owner is a landmark moment in the history and development of the NEC Group and its three operating sites: NEC, ICC and Barclaycard Arena. We are very pleased to have attracted a Birmingham-based buyer in LDC that understands the local importance of the NEC and shares our vision for the future.

"This will ensure that the business goes from strength to strength, and that the NEC continues to play a leading role in the wider economic development of the region whilst securing Birmingham and the wider West Midlands’ position as the home for outstanding live events."

Martin Draper, LDC’s chief executive officer, added: "The NEC Group has developed significantly over recent years and we are delighted to be working with such a strong and experienced team to deliver the NEC’s next exciting phase of development. 

"We also look forward to working closely with both Birmingham and Solihull Councils to support their plans at both the NEC and City Centre sites, which include the airport expansion, redevelopment of the Paradise Circus area and in connection with the HS2 project."

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