Just as predicted by industry insiders, the meetings industry acquisitions spree continues. Fern joining forces with Nth Degree will result in a much larger company looking to compete with industry giants.
MSouth Equity Partners, an Atlanta-based private equity firm, has acquired Fern Exposition Services. Fern is one of the largest show contractors in the U.S., managing a country-wide presence from Cincinnati, Ohio. The parties did not disclose the value of the deal.
Fern annually services over 1,400 trade shows and events. New owners will join forces with Nth Degree, another MSouth portfolio exhibit management and event services company based in Atlanta. The resulting company will have a substantial in-person event and experiential marketing footprint.
“The consumer and business event market is in the midst of a substantial resurgence,” said Barry Boniface, an MSouth Partner. “Spending in that segment is projected to outpace overall advertising and marketing investments as brands shift budgets to activities that engage buyers, create emotional connections, and increase sales. We believe that is a significant opportunity.”
Fern CEO Aaron Bludworth and chief financial officer J.T. Barclay will retire after supporting the leadership transition. Three long-time Fern executives will take over the leadership of the company. Chief operating officer Steve Larsen, executive vice president Michael Cox, and senior vice president Neil McMullin make up the new leadership team. Nth Degree CEO John Hense, and chief financial officer Samantha French, will take on these roles across both companies.
“This is an exciting combination that enhances the powerful offerings that both Fern and Nth Degree provide to our customers,” said Bludworth. “I’m grateful for the dedication of the Fern leadership team and employees throughout the company and see great opportunities ahead as they continue to exceed customer expectations.”
Nth Degree will continue to be led by Hense and French.