Easyfairs strikes three-way deal with two private equity firms

Easyfairs has secured ‘significant’ investment from two private equity firms and revealed that founder, Eric Everard (pictured) will reinvest in the company as part of a three-way partnership. 

Cobepa, an independent private equity investor with over €4.7bn net asset value, Inflexion, a European mid-market private equity firm with €12bn net asset value, and Everard will each own an equal share in Easyfairs when the transaction completes in Q3 later this year. 

Everard (pictured), who is reinvesting a major proportion of his majority stake back into the company, will remain as chairman. 

He said: “More than 25 years of own investment has grown Easyfairs from a small Belgian start-up to a place in the global top ten in our sector. Now is the time to write the next chapter in our history with this exciting three-way partnership.

“I am thrilled to welcome Cobepa and Inflexion to be part of our success story, not least because they share our culture, values and vision, bringing vast experience and expertise to the table.”

Both Cobepa and Inflexion have tracked the growth of Easyfairs for a long time, fuelling persistent rumours of a possible sale.

The three-way deal will now enable Easyfairs to drive faster organic growth through event launches and geo-cloning of existing events, extend its geographic and sector footprint, and unlock further strategic M&A opportunities. 

Jean-Marie Laurent Josi, CEO of Cobepa, said: “We have been following Easyfairs and are impressed by how the company has sustainably built an international leadership position based on its differentiated and customer-focused approach to event organisation. We are delighted to partner with the incredibly driven and talented Easyfairs team to help further accelerate its international growth journey in the years to come.” 

Cobepa and Inflexion will support the existing Easyfairs management team, all of whom have worked for many years with Everard. They include group CEOs Anne Lafère and Matt Benyon, CFO Marc Hellemans, and head of M&A and strategic alliances Benoît David.

Flor Kassai, partner at Inflexion, commented, “We have tracked the growth of Easyfairs for a number of years and have been impressed by its unique tech-enabled business model together with the excellent renewal rates and high levels of customer satisfaction. We look forward to working with Eric as founder, together with the management team, and using our strong industry experience to support Easyfairs execute its ambitious growth strategy.” 

Easyfairs has 20 offices in major European cities and organises 110 exhibitions in 112 industry verticals, including packaging and logistics, manufacturing, industrial processing, hospitality and construction. The company also manages eight venues in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Group CEO Benyon added: “Exciting times ahead. We’re looking forward to accelerating the launch of new events, the geo-cloning of proven event concepts in new markets in Europe and beyond, and unlocking further merger and acquisition opportunities. Above all, this is great news for our exhibitors, visitors, employees and partners.”