A little more than a week after LIGHTFAIR International concluded in Chicago, one of LIGHTFAIR’s co-owners, America’sMart (AMC) was sold to International Market Centers (IMC.), which is backed by Blackstone and Fireside Investments. How this will affect LIGHTFAIR is unclear.
The other two co-owners of LIGHTFAIR are IALD and IES. In addition to their co-ownership position, AMC also manages the show and earns an additional fee for those services. Your humble editor served on the LIGHTFAIR management board in the early 2000’s and quickly realized that part of the success of the show was the initial governance; two industry associations coupled with a professional tradeshow company. The non-profits had the industry support and AMC provided tradeshow best practices–and it was a winning combination!
EdisonReport receives press releases on a regular basis from LIGHTFAIR, but we received no press release regarding AMC’s sale. We stumbled upon the announcement yesterday as our GM’s husband works in the gift business and casually mentioned the sale to us. In the release, there is no mention of LIGHTFAIR. The PR discusses the real estate, which includes 7.1M square feet in downtown Atlanta, it discusses their primary business of Gift & Home Furnishings, but odd that there is no mention of LIGHTFAIR.
We contacted AMC to see if the sale included AMC’s stake in LIGHTFAIR and a spokesman emailed us the following statement,” …we refer you to the May 15, 2018 press release, which stands on its own merit without further comment.” We followed with a phone call, again asking if LIGHTFAIR was part of the sale and received the exact same answer.
Why? Why won’t AMC comment if their stake in LIGHTFAIR was acquired by IMC?
One clue may be hidden in the initial press release. The 15 MAY announcement states, “AmericasMart hosts 17 annual Markets and shows…” Yet, in an AmericasMart press release dated 21 JUN, it refers to “16 annual Markets and shows.” So one show has disappeared. Could that missing show be LIGHTFAIR?
Could LIGHTFAIR have been spun off, or is in the process of being separated? Could existing AMC employees be putting together an offer? Could the other two owners, IALD and IES, be interested in acquiring AMC’s portion. We do not know and no one is talking.
Given AMC’s “without further comment” comment, we are confident of one thing. Something is going on behind the scenes.