Arena Events Group to be sold to Middle Eastern consortium

Events solutions business Arena Events Group has accepted a takeover offer from a consortium involving Abu Dhabi-based International Holding Company and Saudi Arabia-based Tasheel.

The takeover will value the company, whose major events portfolio includes the Wimbledon Championships tennis grand slam, at £71m (€84.1m/$97.9m).

Holding company Tasheel already owns a 23.9% stake in Arena Events Group. If the takeover is approved, Tasheel would assume a 30% stake, with International Holding Company to own the remaining 70%.

Arena’s chief executive is Irishman Greg Lawless, who will step down from the role if the takeover goes through. The Irish Independent newspaper reported that Lawless will take up a senior advisory role to the new board.

Arena chairman Ken Hanna said: “The offer from the consortium represents a substantial premium to the Arena Group’s existing share price and recognises the quality of Arena, the agility of the business to successfully rebound from the COVID pandemic and its standing amongst its peers as the world of events returns to normality.

“As a privately owned group, the new owners will help Arena grow through additional funding which guarantees the future of the firm as a leader in the event rental market. In this regard, both IHC and Tasheel are perfect partners for Arena, as they provide enormous security and backing for the business going forward.”

Arena employs over 1,200 people. In January, the company secured a £15.6m support loan from HSBC UK as it looked to navigate the financial problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arena received the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan (CBILS) to provide additional financial security to the business during 2020 and throughout 2021. With the sporting calendar having been decimated by COVID-19 last year, Arena adapted its business offering by building field hospitals and drive-through testing centres in the UK, US, the Middle East and Africa.

In June last year, Arena Group announced the merger of its UK & Europe and Middle East & Asia divisions. The company said Arena EMEA would allow its MEA division’s “reputation for innovation and delivery of design-led solutions” to be introduced into the UK market.