According to Reed Elsevier’s latest interim results, operating profits at division Reed Exhibitions were up 3% to £123m in the first six months of 2010.
Meanwhile, revenues were up 8% to £383m during the same period for the exhibitions group, which runs EIBTM, World Travel Market, and will organise the new Americas Incentive Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (AIBTM) in 2011.
It is believed there have been informal meetings between private equity groups including Cinven and Apax, and Reed Exhibition’s management during which interest was expressed in a possible buy-out.
Reed’s interim management statement this month stated: "While space sales for the majority of 2010 events have been behind prior year levels, exhibition markets are stabilising with growth returning in the second half annual shows. The net cycling in of biennial shows will deliver overall growth for the year. Forward space bookings for events in 2011 are encouraging, although these vary by sector and geography; 2011 will, however, see the net cycling out of biennial shows."
Amid the buy-out speculation, EIBTM’s exhibition director Graeme Barnett, who has been working for Reed Exhibitions for 14 years, told C&IT he anticipated a strong year at the show in Barcelona next week.
"We have planned very carefully," said Barnett, who will head out to EIBTM on Friday (26 November) before it kicks off next Tuesday (30 November).
Reed Exhibitions' chairman Mike Rusbridge refused to comment.