LONDON - Majority ownership of the world's largest coin-operated amusement machine trade show has passed from the hands of an industry trade association to those of a conglomerated exposition organizer. ATEI, the Amusement Trades Exhibition International, routinely draws 30,000 visitors to London each January and has been owned for decades by the British Amusement Catering Trades Association. On June 23, BACTA confirmed that Clarion Events, a UK-based organizer of trade and consumer exhibitions, has acquired a controlling investment in Amusement Trades Exhibitions, BACTA's commercial exhibition, conference, publishing and services subsidiary.
BACTA announced that the transaction would enable the association to focus on the future security and success of its members and the amusement industry at a time of great uncertainty as the UK nears a new era under the upcoming Gambling Act. BACTA president Colin Daniels said the sale will be good for BACTA and ATE, calling Clarion "a young and dynamic company that shares ATE's values and will continue the strong working partnership that BACTA and ATE have always shared."
Clarion, a 25-year-old firm, runs 39 shows in the UK and calls itself "the largest independent consumer and trade show exhibition organizer in the UK and one of the top three exhibition organizing companies in the country." Formerly the in-house organizer of Earls Court and Olympia Group, Clarion completed a management buyout last year and is now backed by private equity group HG Capital. Clarion managing director Simon Kimble said his group would work closely with industry experts at BACTA and ATE. The firm maintains a website at clarionevents.com.
Sale of ATEI comes as no surprise. Last December, BACTA's National Council said the group had agreed in principle to sell ATE, subject to approval by the Trustees and Management Committee, if the right deal could be found.
Launched in 1936, the ATEI Show has been held annually most years with the exception of the World War II era (1939-45). BACTA was founded in 1974. With foundations laid in the late 19th century, it now comprises the world's largest trade association in the gaming arena, and the only association to represent the pay-to-play leisure industry in Great Britain. Currently BACTA represents the interests of more than 685 companies and 1,170 individuals.