XM Europe in turmoil after drug conviction

The European Association for Exhibition Organisers (XM Europe) has suspended all activity in the wake of managing director Eef de Ferrante's 22-year sentence for drug possession by a Thai court.

A joint summer seminar with UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, will still go ahead but will now be managed solely by the worldwide trade association.

On 10 March, the owner of de Ferrante Exhibitions was found guilty of possessing cocaine while on a business trip to the Far East. The incident took place in May 2003 and sources close to de Ferrante say he was arrested after taking delivery of a package of brochures that he had posted to himself from his Dutch offices. On opening the package, Thai police discovered a large quantity of cocaine.

de Ferrante is the majority shareholder in XM Europe, which had been running two networking seminars a year for organisers who wished to learn about operations overseas. The other shareholder, Cornelien Baijens, stressed she aimed to continue the business and would make an announcement soon.

The UFI-run seminar in Zagreb, Croatia, entitled Spice Up Your Exhibition Business and Explore New Markets, will now be held from 14-16 June and for the first time will be open to non-UFI members.

Confirmed speakers at the three-day event include Expomedia Group chief executive Mark Shashoua, Montgomery Exhibitions chairman Sandy Angus, NEC director of corporate development John Cole and Tarsus Group managing director Douglas Emslie.

Research firm Farrugia Leo managing director Sarah Farrugia and The George P Johnson Compnay managing director Europe Neil Jones will also be presenting to the 200 anticipated delegates.

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