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Coronavirus hits French event giant Comexposium

France's biggest events firm is placing several businesses in bankruptcy protection, blaming restrictions that prevent it from 'playing its role'

By IQ on 28 Sep 2020

Comexposium organises Paris’s Retromobile fair

Comexposium organises Paris’s Retromobile fair


image © Comexposium

One of the world’s largest events organisers has filed for bankruptcy protection after being unable to secure government-backed financing.

Paris-based Comexposium, which organises trade shows and exhibitions globally, has placed three of its holding companies in financial protection in France, citing restrictions on mass gatherings both in France and internationally.

The company – which Conference & Meetings World notes was sold to Credit Agricole for over US$700 million last year – is France’s biggest event organiser and the third-largest in the world, with a portfolio of more than 130 B2B and B2C events. In normal times, it welcomes more than 3.5 million visitors to its shows, which include events for the food, agriculture, fashion, security, transport and construction industries.

In a statement, the group says coronavirus restrictions have “prevented Comexposium from being able to play its role, organising events, for over six months. For many months the events sector has seen very little activity, and, as of now, there is uncertainty around when events will fully restart in France and abroad. Therefore, it has become necessary for Comexposium to adapt its financing.”

“I strongly believe in the importance of face-to-face events, and I am confident events will come back”

According to Les Echos, the company has now filed for bankruptcy protection with the commercial court in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris.

The paper notes that the bankruptcy process, valid for six months (and renewable twice), gives the three businesses freedom from creditors and freezes their debts while Comexposium restructures its business. Comexposium, it adds, had applied for a state-guaranteed loan earlier in the year, but its application was rejected.

Despite the extraordinary measures, Comexposium chairman Renaud Hamaide is confident in the company’s future. “Meeting in person is the quickest and strongest way to build relationships. I strongly believe in the importance of face-to-face events, and I am confident events will come back,” he comments.

“Further, it is clear that digital and multi-channelled approaches to creating connection are necessary, and we will continue to develop in this area. The future is being written now, and when this crisis is over, we want to be at the forefront of our industry in bringing people together.”


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