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Sale of Centaur events ‘anticipated to be agreed’ first half of 2019

Centaur Media, organiser of various exhibitions including the Business Travel Show and The Meetings Show, has reported a Group revenue increase of nine per cent to £70.5m, with an underlying revenue decline of 1.6 per cent. These figures reflect increased revenues from brands including The Lawyer, Marketing Week, MW Mini MBA, and The Meetings Show, as well as a full-year of revenue from 2017 acquisition MarketMakers.

In the CEO performance review, the trading statement said that five years of repositioning have “continued Centaur’s transition from being a media publisher heavily dependent on advertising and print to a more diverse and robust business, providing a range of business information and specialist consultancy services with more reliable and recurring revenue streams.”

In late 2018 the company announced it had appointed Livingstone Partners and Cavendish Corporate Finance to “explore divestment possibilities and ensure that shareholder value is maximised.” This included advice on the potential sale of several of its event brands including the Business Travel Show, The Meetings Show and Sub Con.

The statement says that “Subsequent to the year end and before signing of annual report the held for sale criteria was met and has been disclosed below as a non-adjusting post balance sheet event.

The businesses under review as part of this plan are:

  • Financial Services, which provides research, analysis and content information to financial intermediaries
  • The Lawyer, which operates a digital platform to provide intelligence and analysis to the global legal market
  • Travel & Meetings, which includes the Business Travel Show (pictured) and The Meetings Show
  • Human Resources, including Employee Benefits Live
  • Engineering, including Subcon, an exhibition that serves the sub-contractor industry

At the time of signing the Annual Report, negotiations for the sale of these businesses were ongoing and are anticipated to be agreed within half one 2019.”

In the past financial year Centaur created XEIM, “to develop business information, intelligence and consulting services, primarily in the marketing sector” which has become the Group’s largest business.

A goodwill impairment charge of £12.8m was made in the company’s marketing segment, “relat[ing] to events to be closed and other businesses within the marketing portfolio” and £0.3m in the financial services segment “following a review of expected cash flows”, resulting in a statutory operating loss of £14.0m (loss of £0.3m in 2017).

Andria Vidler, chief executive, commented: “We are pleased to have made good strategic progress this year, to have increased adjusted operating profits and to have accelerated the simplification of the Group’s structure. This will create a more efficient and focused business with a higher margin.

“XEIM, the new name for the Group’s marketing businesses, enables us to offer a more integrated and coordinated service to help our clients improve their marketing performance.”

A board change was announced, with Neil Johnson standing down as chairman in June 2019 to take on a new role, succeeded by Colin Jones, who joined the board in September 2018.