Paul Thandi CBE partnered with LDC to transform The NEC Group


The NEC Group: backing a four-year transformation

That speed of focus put a 20-30% injection of energy into the company.

Paul Thandi CBE, Chief Executive
The NEC Group

Playing a key role in helping to transform The NEC Group, the UK’s live-events business of choice.

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  • Travel & leisure

The NEC Group is a live entertainment business with over forty years of world-class expertise in venue and destination management.

Employees: 2000

Deal type
  • Carve out
Deal value


Exit type
  • Private equity sale
Exit date


  • Reinvested
Re-investment date


LDC worked alongside The NEC Group’s management team, led by CEO Paul Thandi CBE, to back a four-year transformation programme. This initiative enhanced sites, facilities and customer experience and broadened the range of events across the Group’s portfolio, supported by significant capital investment. In 2018 LDC exited its investment to Blackstone and reinvested to continue to support the next stage of the company’s growth journey.

Founded in 1976, the NEC has grown into the UK’s live-events business of choice for organisers, exhibitors and visitors, playing host to over seven million guests and 750 events every year.

The Group boasts Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, the International Convention Centre, the Genting Arena and Arena Birmingham among its assets as well as caterer Amadeus and national ticketing agency The Ticket Factory. The NEC is also due to host nine sports as part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

In 2015, we backed the management buyout of the NEC in a transaction which valued the business at around £307m.

LDC worked alongside the NEC’s management team, led by CEO Paul Thandi CBE, and delivered further strategic organic and acquisition-led initiatives across all business channels, both in the UK and overseas.

We wanted to change our business and realise our business plan. We wanted investment to build new businesses, organically grow our business, invest in our teams and complete some acquisitions to grow our portfolio. We had a choice of a few people to go with, and what I liked the most about LDC was their approach. First and foremost, it wasn’t the business, it was the management team that they were interested in.”
Paul Thandi CBE, Chief Executive
The NEC Group

Award-winning event

The NEC won a number of awards during its partnership with LDC including ‘Deal of the Year’ at the Midlands Insider Dealmakers Awards 2015, ‘Large Business of the Year’ and Paul Thandi CBE as ‘Ambassador of the Year’ at the West Midlands Business Masters Awards in 2017, and ‘Large Management Team of the Year’ at the BVCA Management Team Awards in 2017.

Revenue grew each year throughout the partnership, and the financial results for the year to 31 March 2018 reported revenue of £162.1m, up £4.4m on the previous year.

This growth reflects the group’s strategy to broaden the range of events across the NEC campus and city centre venues following investment in facilities and increased use of customer data analytics to maximise new event opportunities.

All set for ongoing growth

In October 2018, LDC exited its investment in the NEC Group to Blackstone, and completed a minority reinvestment. This will allow LDC to continue to support the management team on the next stage of the company’s growth journey.

In 2019 The NEC Group picked up the ‘Best Venue’ (over 20,000sqm) award at the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) Awards.

Get your arms around the Value Creation team from day one, they are there to help you, they are a great group for LDC. We worked on sales effectiveness. I recommend every CEO to gets to know how you engage with your market and how you can do it better.”
Paul Thandi CBE, Chief Executive
The NEC Group

Paul Thandi CBE outlines the positive impact that private equity has had on the transformation of The NEC Group



Large Business of the Year and Paul Thandi as Ambassador of the Year

West Midlands Business Masters Awards 2017

Deal of the Year

NEC Group – Midlands Insider Dealmakers Awards 2015

Large Management Team of the Year

BVCA Management Team Awards 2017

Best Venue (over 20,000sqm)

Association of Event Organisers 2019