Shareholder approval for the sale of Staging Connections to Freeman Audio Visual in the United States should see the deal completed this month. After a brief bidding war with rival US firm PSAV, Freeman emerged the winner, paying as much as $62 million for the national audio visual and events supplier.
PSAV and Freeman were invited to bid but only PSAV met the mid year deadline, offering around $54 million, leading to an agreement in July. Then Freeman countered on July 10, PSAV made further conditional offers, and the board settled with Freeman for around $62 million on August 10.
The purchase price included a break fee for PSAV of $1,277,000 and incentive payments totaling $1 million to key Staging management, offered some time ago as reward for assisting in the sale process. A small bonus fee was allocated to the outgoing board members.
At conclusion, Staging’s bank NAB will be repaid around $49.5 million, and the shareholders will receive around $8.5 million.
CX understands Staging staff preferred Freeman over PSAV as the latter is ultimately controlled by a bank. Freeman is a long established family company. Freeman are expected to rebrand the company in Australia.
This will bring to an end a period of considerable uncertainty where Staging found itself squeezed by a group of former managers and directors who established Scene Change and AV Partners, both of which targeted Staging clients, forcing down commissions and forcing up capital expenditure.
Freeman have both deep pockets and a large multinational client base, which will alter the dynamics in the ‘in-house AV’ business over the years ahead.
First published in CX Magazine (October, 2015)