Cannes Lion, the world’s biggest advertising festival, could be put on the block by its parent company.Top Right, the media and events giant backed by Guardian Media Group and formerly known as Emap, is said to have been quietly sounding out would-be buyers ahead of a formal sales process. Such a process could start some time after the annual trade exhibition, which takes place in June.
The glamorous festival, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, attracts more than 11,000 advertising executives and an increasing number of technology companies, such as Google and Adobe, for seven days in the Cannes sun.
As well as beach-side meetings, it is the stage for the advertising industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, the Cannes Lions Awards, and lavish night-time beach gatherings which outstrip anything seen at the Cannes festivals for other industries such as property and television.
Top Right, which is jointly owned by Guardian Media Group and private equity firm Apax, declined to comment on the prospect of a sale.
However, sources indicated that there is no fixed timeframe in place and that it wanted to grow the business until an eventual sale, which they said could take up to four years. The group has already separated Cannes Lions from the rest of its trade exhibitions, which sit in a separate unit.
Sources said it was leaning heavily on advertising’s most powerful executives to attend the event to help them “pump prime” it for sale.
Potential bidders would include private equity firms and rival trade exhibitions organisers such as Informa, UBM or ITE Group in Britain, or Turkey’s Tarsus.
Last year Top Right held talks to offload its Middle Eastern Economic Digest [MEED] operation but it pulled the sale after failing to achieve enough interest at the right price.
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