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NEC put up for sale by Birmingham City Council

Sir Albert Bore says says council cannot afford investment or capital funding needed to grow the NEC Group.

Birmingham City Council has been a major shareholder in the NEC since 1976. The NEC Group is being put on the market as Birmingham City Council seeks to bolster is struggling balance sheet. The council has been the major shareholder in the business since it opened in 1976.

The group includes the International Convention Centre (ICC) and National Indoor Arena (NIA) in the city centre.

The council argues that in these austere times it cannot afford the investment or lever in capital funding needed to grow the NEC Group in future.

Council leader Sir Albert Bore also needs the windfall income from the sale to pay off part of the city council’s extensive equal pay liabilities.

Coun Bore said: “The NEC Group has reached a point in its evolution where it needs to be able to adopt the financial disciplines of a private, rather than a council-owned company to enable the next stage of strategic development.”

NEC chief executive Paul Thandi added that thorough private investment the group will realise its ambitions to grow as a global brand.

He said: “The city council has been a fantastic shareholder.

“But we need to realise our ambitions through a different capital risk profile.”

In recent years the group has branched out into catering, ticket agency, and venue management businesses and plans to grow these.

Also under construction is the Birmingham Resorts World conference facility at the NEC site.

The two sites will be sold on a leasehold basis, with the NEC site on a long 100 plus lease and a shorter, perhaps 25-year deal, for the ICC and NIA facilities.

Sir Albert added: “An open sale process has been identified through an extensive strategic review process as the way to achieve full value for this internationally-renowned asset, whilst achieving the other principal objectives of enabling the Group to achieve its potential and growing economic impact.”

The city council will invite potentially interested buyers to participate in a pre-qualification process while sale preparations are finalised.

The city council also intends to retain claw-back rights over certain land at the main NEC site, so ensuring that it preserves potential future development value from a highly attractive site that will be adjacent to the Birmingham Interchange HS2 station.

Christopher Macgowan