Etc Venues, one of the UK’s largest conferencing and events providers, has been acquired by the US rival Convene as part of a strategy to exploit the move by companies to cut back on traditional office space.
The deal, which is worth about £200mn, will make Convene the largest provider of meeting and event venues in the UK and US. Etc has 16 sites around the UK and US, including in London’s County Hall by Waterloo station.
The deal is in part driven by Convene’s view that remote working will continue to disrupt the city office market, pushing companies to seek convenient central meeting areas to bring together their staff.
“The workplace of the future is a meeting space,” said Ryan Simonetti, chief executive and co-founder of Convene. “While individual work can be done anywhere, Convene provides purpose-built meeting and social event spaces with the tools and amenities aimed at inspiring collaboration.”
Hudson’s Bay Company, the Canadian retail and real estate business group that owns Saks in the US, acquired a majority stake in Convene last year for $500mn.
Other shareholders include global asset managers Brookfield and Ares Capital. The new valuation of the combined group is expected to be about $800mn.
Investors participating in the financing for the acquisition include Hudson’s Bay Company and Ares, alongside RXR, Revolution Capital and Gencom.
Hudson’s Bay Company has promised to invest and grow Convene’s business. Convene wants to use the deal to expand in the UK market, while also growing Etc in the New York market.
Convene expects demand for meetings and event space to increase as employers seek to save money and reduce their real estate costs for offices that are often half empty.
“The London and New York City markets continue to rebound at a tremendous pace post-Covid with demand for outsourced premium meeting and event solutions accelerating,” said Simonetti.
Founded in 1992, Etc operates a 450,000 sq ft real estate portfolio across 13 UK locations and three in New York City. In 2019, the company worked for more than 3,100 clients and more than 1mn delegates across 19,000 events.
With the addition of Etc, Convene now has 38 meetings, events and flexible office locations across the US and UK.
“Convene and Etc Venues are two distinct and established leaders in the meetings and events industry, bringing them together creates an unparalleled global offering,” said Richard Baker, executive chair of Hudson’s Bay Company.