Lloyds To Get NEC?

An investment arm of Lloyds Banking Group is reportedly on the verge of taking control of Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.  

Sky News says the investment wing of the taxpayer-backed bank could be announced as the new owner of the complex, which includes the International Convention Centre and the National Indoor Are), as soon as Jan. 14.

The NEC Group also owns national ticketing agency The Ticket Factory, hospitality brand Amplify and a catering operation called Amadeus.

Following six months of rumour, last March Birmingham City Council announced it was prepared to sell the NEC Group to clear its debts.

The council needs the £300 million or so the complex is expected to fetch to settle as many as 4,000 equal-pay claims amounting to some £1 billion.

The council has agreed to equal-pay settlements with thousands of women paid less than men doing equivalent jobs. When the council made it public that it was prepared to sell, NEC Group managing director of arenas Phil Mead was bullish about the chances of the arena finding a buyer.

“Partnership deals with LG and Barclaycard have already shown the NEC Group’s ability to secure third-party funding to help fund investment in its venues and demonstrate their attractiveness and iconic status,” he told Pollstar.

Birmingham Council leader Sir Albert Bore said the NEC Group has reached a point in its evolution where it needs to be able to adopt the financial disciplines of a private, rather than a council-owned company to enable the next stage of strategic development.