Last week’s Las Vegas Market kicked off with an announcement about the show’s third phase of its strategic growth plan, news that was quickly overshadowed by another announcement in The Wall Street Journal. International Market Centers (IMC), which owns the World Market Center Las Vegas facility and about 60 percent of showroom space at the High Point Market, is exploring an initial public offering, which could be completed later this year or early 2015.
You might recall that Bain Capital, Oaktree Capital Group and minority investors formed IMC in 2011 to bring the three World Market Center buildings and a number of the largest High Point venues under a single ownership in the ultimate double down. When IMC’s name was being decided, I remember someone within the organization saying off the record that an appealing ticker symbol was one of the considerations. According to The Wall Street Journal’s report, IMC is seeking to raise $530 million in loans to refinance debt and provide working capital.
While we see how an IMC IPO ultimately unfolds, the Las Vegas Market is moving full-steam ahead on the aforementioned growth plan. The next phase of change will be in place for the summer 2015 market, when Building C will launch two new floors: C5 for boutique home décor, textiles and accessories; and C11 for gourmet housewares, tabletop and gift. Temporary exhibits currently on those floors will be relocated to a “dedicated, free-standing venue on the market campus.” Yes, the tents. But put aside those flashbacks of insufficient AC when they were originally opened. Remember how more than 10,000 people sat comfortably in one of the Pavilions three summers ago to hear former President Bill Clinton speak?
The Clinton appearance and High Point real estate grab should serve as reminders that this is a market organization that makes no small plans. If it does indeed end up going public, no doubt those shareholders will be in for an exciting ride.