Morris eyes £20m venue bid

Earls Court & Olympia chief executive Andrew Morris has emerged as a likely bidder for the Commonwealth

Earls Court & Olympia chief executive Andrew Morris has emerged as a likely bidder for the Commonwealth Conference and Events Centre (CCEC), which was put on the market last month with an estimated £20m price tag. “It’s early days but we are interested in looking at the possibilities,” Morris stated. “It’s an exciting space, and is a landmark building in a prime location with great hotel stock close by.” Morris revealed his intentions exclusively to Event following his speech at the inaugural London Leadership Forum on Business Tourism, which took place at One Whitehall Place on 28 March. During his add-ress, Morris reiterated the need for a large convention centre in the capital. Morris later insisted that CECC was unsuitable as a London convention centre. “The venue is too small to provide the 4,000-5,000-seat auditorium necessary and as it is a listed building there are planning restrictions,” he commented. The venue’s property agents DTZ said there had been more than 30 viewings of the Kensington venue. Other interested parties are believed to include His Highness the Aga Khan, renowned for his conservation of historical buildings, and CECC managing director Paul Kennedy, who is thought to be planning a management buy-out. Kenn- edy refused to comment. The CCEC is owned by the Commonwealth Institute (CI) charitable trust, which is selling the business to fund education around the Commonwealth. Its current focus is the development of a Centre for Commonwealth Education in a joint venture with Cambridge University. CI finance director Judy Curry said: “We no longer need the building for charitable purposes. The trustees have to get the best value for the site and the business so they are open to offers.” The venue has 6,000sqm of exhibition space and has been hosting events since 1993. Initial expressions of interest for the CCEC must be received by 9 May.

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