Mice prevails in £30m battle for Expocentric

Mice Group has won its £30.5m bid to take over virtual exhibitions firm Expocentric.

Mice Group has won its £30.5m bid to take over virtual exhibitions firm Expocentric. The all-paper deal involves the exchange of ten Mice shares for every 19 of Expocentric’s, and was passed by shareholders at an EGM on 14 January. Prior to the offer Stephen Moore agreed to step down as chief executive of Expo-centric. This role has now been assumed by former chief operating officer, Hugh Scrimgeour. Moore will remain at the company until his contract expires. Scrimgeour admitted that Expocentric had not performed to expectations and said the company was un-likely to generate adequate returns for shareholders. “We had got to the point where we couldn’t justify the size of the company and the cost base in relation to the cash burn, and the time it would take to reach profitability,” he said. “This is very positive for shareholders in finding a way forward for them. It’s excellent that we’re now a part of Mice as it has a strong line-up of corporate customers and we can eventually distribute our product through their network.” Expocentric was set up in 1999 and floated in November 2000, raising £31.5m capital. In the first nine months of last year the firm reported sales of £360,000 and pre-tax losses of £9.1m. Shareholders subsequently called for the business to close and return the £35m cash pile to them (Marketing Event, October). Mice chairman Michael Curley said: “The cash resources made available to us on acquiring Expocentric will enable us to continue to grow our business in response to our international customer base, and to take advantage of opportunities at this point in the economic cycle.” The takeover came as Mice International won a two-year contract to develop British Airways’ global exhibitions and display programme from April 2002. Mice has also won a £1m project from the Swiss Confederation for Switzerland’s Expo.02 festival.

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