Irish-led Ryder Cup events supplier raises £20m for deals

Arena Events Group, led by Greg Lawless, has made acquisitions in US and Dubai

A London-listed supplier of temporary facilities for major sporting events such as the Ryder Cup and Wimbledon tennis championships, led by Irish chief executive Greg Lawless, has raised £20 million (€22.4 million) through a share placement for two acquisitions.

The move comes 13 months after Mr Lawless, a one-time director at Davy's corporate finance arm, spearheaded a £60 million initial public offering (IPO) of the company, Arena Events Group.

The proceeds from the latest share sale will be used to help fund the purchase of a California-based tent rentals and event services company, Stuart Rentals, and an exhibition design and build company based in Dubai, called TGP.

The share placement with unnamed institutional investors is conditional on existing shareholder approval at a meeting on September 4th.

“These acquisitions will significantly broaden our global operations while complementing our existing product range and fit our stated strategy of increasing our comprehensive suite of products over a broader geographic reach,” said Mr Lawless.

Hire firm

Mr Lawless (58) worked with Davy between 1987 and 1992 before joining Irish distribution company Allegro. He was part of a management team, led by businessman Dermot Divilly, that bought out the business the following year. Allegro was subsequently merged with a unit of Fyffes in 1999.

Mr Lawless and Mr Divilly went on to acquire Hireall, a Dublin-based party hire company, in 2004. They subsequently bought similar businesses in Ireland and Britain, culminating in the 2007 purchase of Arena Structures and Seating.

Mr Divilly sold his interest in 2012, as MML Equity Partners and Sports Investment Partners (SIP) came on board as investors.

Arena Events saw its adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rise to £10.6 million last year from £8.5 million in 2016, as revenues surged 18 per cent to £109.6 million.

The company, which provides everything from temporary event scaffolding and seating to ice rinks, said earlier this month that it has reached a settlement in relation a potential legal action and a US government investigation into its Ameicas unit.

This stemmed from the company’s relationship with a former customer that was charged with violating a US government small-business scheme. Arena Americas said on August 2nd that it admitted to no wrongdoing by entering into the settlement agreement and that it decided to do so “to avoid the uncertainty of litigation over the government’s allegation”.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times