MidOcean Partners (“MidOcean”), a premier middle market private equity firm focused on the business services and consumer sectors, announced today that it has acquired Questex Intermediate Holdings, Inc. (“Questex” or the “Company”), a leading B2B information services provider, from Shamrock Capital. MidOcean’s investment will be used to drive the Company’s continued growth. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Questex, which is the parent company of Travel Agent and Luxury Travel Advisor, is a leading global B2B information services company that serves the beauty/spa/wellness, travel/hospitality, life sciences/healthcare and telecommunications/technology sectors. The company serves these end markets through leading brands and well-developed capabilities, including over 125 tradeshows (such as the industry leading International Beauty Shows), conferences (including ExL events), and hosted buyer events (such as the HOTEC hotel industry events) as well as a broad array of complementary media (such as the Fierce properties), education offerings and marketing services.
The Company generates a significant portion of its revenue and earnings from its fast growing events portfolio.
“As opposed to narrowcast events-only businesses, MidOcean believes in the value of surrounding a market with integrated event and media assets. We focus on the customer journey, from discovery and awareness through to consideration and purchase, and the breadth of Questex’s assets in each of their markets allows them to support both their audience and marketers through each step of the journey,” said David Kieselstein, Chairman of MidOcean’s private equity Executive Board. Mr. Kieselstein previously served as CEO of Penton, a former MidOcean portfolio company and the largest privately held B2B information services company in North America prior to its sale to Informa plc in November 2016 for $1.6 billion. David will serve as Chairman of the Questex Board of Directors.
MidOcean has maintained a longtime institutional focus on the B2B information services space, including prior investments in Penton and Thompson Publishing Group. During MidOcean’s ownership, Mr. Kieselstein led the transformation of Penton from a traditional B2B media platform into a professional information services company. MidOcean’s industry knowledge and significant operating resource talent will be valuable in successfully executing on the Questex’s strategic growth plan.
Questex will be led by incoming CEO Paul Miller. Mr. Miller has held a variety of leadership positions in the industry, including as CEO of the UBM Technology Group, President of Penton’s Industry Group and President of Informa’s Industry & Infrastructure Intelligence Group. Mr. Miller commented, “I’m excited to lead Questex’s continued growth. I look forward to working with this talented team to drive our growth strategy and enhance our offerings across Questex’s end markets to better serve our customers.” Mr. Miller will be joining the current management team which includes CFO Debra Mason.
Ms. Mason joined Questex in 2017, and held prior leadership roles including COO and CFO of ALM Media LLC, and CFO of the $700 million Americas division of the global research firm Ipsos.
Kerry Gumas, Questex’s current CEO, will continue to guide the Company as a Senior Advisor. In this role he will be focused on both strategic initiatives and M&A, as well as ensuring a smooth operational transition to new ownership. Mr. Gumas, who co-founded and has successfully led Questex as CEO for the last 13 years, said, "It has been a great privilege to lead Questex as CEO from its founding through its growth and transformation into a dynamic B2B information services company and I'm very pleased that MidOcean has chosen this remarkable company and its dedicated professionals as a platform investment. With the support of the Questex Board and on behalf of our executive leadership team and all Questex colleagues, I look forward to handing over the baton of daily leadership in the coming weeks to my long-time colleague in the industry, Paul Miller. I am confident that under Paul’s dynamic leadership the Company will continue to innovate, accelerate growth and provide enhanced service and value to our customers.”
Barrett Gilmer, Managing Director at MidOcean, commented, “We are delighted to welcome Paul as the new CEO of Questex. Paul has a strong track record as both a top notch operator and leader, and an innovator who can conceive and launch new initiatives. We are excited about the impact he’ll have by building upon the strong foundation currently in place. I am grateful to Kerry both for creating a great platform, and for agreeing to help support its further growth ahead. MidOcean believes that Questex is a compelling, scaled B2B platform that offers multiple levers for expansion, including organic growth and the acquisition of both new capabilities and assets in existing or compelling new sectors. We believe we are an advantaged buyer of integrated event and media assets globally, and we plan to aggressively pursue those opportunities.”
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher acted as legal advisor to MidOcean. Jefferies LLC served as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal advisor to Questex.