Coronavirus: Singapore fund snaps up Informa stake

An Asian sovereign wealth fund has snapped up a stake in Informa as part of the world’s largest exhibitions operator’s effort to shore up its balance sheet amid the coronavirus crisis.

Sky News has learnt that Singapore’s Government Investment Corporation (GIC) agreed to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in Informa last week.

The deal, which formed part of a £1bn share placing by Informa, underlines how powerful state-backed investors are looking to capitalise on the slump in global equity valuations to acquire stakes in strongly capitalised companies.

In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has bought a stake in the embattled cruise operator Carnival Corporation, while other Gulf-based sovereign funds are also plotting substantial investments in listed companies, according to bankers.

Informa, which has seen its shares almost halve in the last 12 months, organises thousands of events around the world each year, including the Monaco Yacht Show and the World Tea Expo.

It is run by Lord Carter, the former boss of Ofcom, the media regulator.

Last week, the company said it would suspend its dividend and accelerate cost-cutting plans, alongside the £1bn equity-raise.

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It added that it had secured “strong support from existing shareholders and from a long-term cornerstone institution”, without naming GIC.

Informa has been forced to cancel events around the world as the pandemic has spread, with little prospect of a short-term resumption in Europe or the US.

The company declined to comment on Wednesday.