London-listed Euromoney Institutional Investor has bought the Mining Indaba, which attracts thousands of delegates from around the world, for US$78m, promising to breathe new life into the event.
Several companies and investors have become disillusioned with the 20-year-old annual mining conference in Cape Town, complaining it has become a largely irrelevant and expensive suppliers’ gathering.
Many mining companies send delegations to Cape Town to meet international bankers, financiers and investors who have come to the event, but hold many of their meetings outside the conference to avoid the high costs. It was a problem Euromoney quickly identified during its due diligence study of the event ahead of buying it from Summit Professional Networks, a US-based company, Euromoney MD Christopher Fordham said in an interview. "We have not invested to run it as it is now.
"Summit doesn’t have anything outside the US except Indaba. We are a better owner (of the event.)
"We understand emerging markets, we understand investors and the mining business. This is going to be a business that will really change."
One major South African mining company was planning to visit Cape Town next February, but had no plan to attend Indaba. "They want big names to present at Indaba but then want you to pay $10,000 or $15,000 to do so," said a mining executive speaking on condition of anonymity. "It was a money-making thing and we didn’t see the value in it. It’s too much of a suppliers’ event.
"You’d notice a number of banks and institutions run their own mini conferences before, during and after Indaba, which shows you how poorly regarded it is."
John Meyer from SP Angel agreed. "The problem is that most mining companies have not bothered to attend the event in recent years due to its cost and domination by trade suppliers.
"New events have sprung up around the Indaba … (which) are more popular with mining companies, which have largely forsaken the main conference."
Mr Fordham said Euromoney would tap into synergies with its other businesses to improve the value of the event, rather than dramatically cut the costs. "We’ve got all kinds of ideas to attract the kinds of people who are perhaps not attending as much now.
"We want to invest in the content side and make sure investors, mining companies and government ministers spend their time usefully."
Euromoney ran 600 events a year and would draw on its experience to ensure "Indaba next year is more focused on its original ideas and is not so much a trade show," Mr Fordham said.
About 12,500 people go to Cape Town, but only 60% attend the event. "We have … ways to make the event attractive to people sitting on the fringes now."
Euromoney has a database of 6 million names it will tap into, to ensure targeted attendees were made aware of the Indaba and made their way to Cape Town.
[Source: Business Day]