Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Will DEP fairs privatisation trigger a chain reaction?

For years, senior executives at the big business media companies have been eyeing the rich trade fair portfolios of the national trade promotion organisations such as the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and TAITRA in Taiwan. Any discussions about the possible acquisition of these portfolios has been rebuffed with a brusque "not possible".

Well, we gather that the Dept. of Export Promotion in Thailand is in the early stages of reviewing bids for its entire trade fair portfolio. How that plays out will be interesting to see although we would assume that a company with very strong Thai connections will be preferred.

What interests us, though, is how much of a dent this puts in the "not possible" argument from HKTDC and others. Expect to hear a bit more about this in the coming months. In what, in major M&A terms, has to be considered a target-poor environment, these are potentially very rich prizes and could represent the biggest B2B acquisitions ever done in Asia (if you exclude Yahoo!'s $1bn investment in Alibaba 2 years ago). Much as the Executive Directors of the big NTPOs would wish the business media companies would go away, you can be sure that they won't.

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