Bain Capital, Oaktree Capital Management Back International Market Centers

Bain Capital Partners and a subsidiary of Oaktree Capital Management teamed together to invest $1 billion in International Market Centers, with the intent of developing the showrooms assets. International Market Centers has locations in North Carolina and Las Vegas. Phil Loughlin, managing director, worked on the deal from Bain Capital. Kirkland & Ellis is counsel for Bain Capital, Paul Weiss is acting as legal advisor to the Oaktree entities, and Paul Hastings represents related companies.

PRESS RELEASE:

HIGH POINT, N.C. and LAS VEGAS (Tuesday, May 3, 2011)—The world’s largest network of premium home furnishings, gift and home décor showroom and exhibition space was launched today. The newly formed International Market Centers, L.P. (IMC) announced an investment of approximately $1 billion to unite iconic showroom assets in High Point, N.C., and Las Vegas, and create an effective, efficient and compelling world-class business-to-business platform for both buyers and sellers.
IMC’s portfolio, initially comprised of 13 buildings and encompassing more than 10.6 million gross square feet, includes the International Home Furnishings Center and the Market Square Complex (consisting of eight properties) in High Point as well as all of the World Market Center buildings in Las Vegas. Through a series of transactions, all assets in the portfolio have been recapitalized with significant equity investments, providing for long-term stability and creating a growth platform for the industry. Financial details of the transactions were not disclosed.
IMC has also reached agreement to acquire five additional buildings encompassing nearly one million gross square feet including, Showplace, Showplace West and three North Hamilton Street showroom venues in High Point. Upon the closing of this transaction, IMC will own and operate a total of 18 showroom buildings spanning 11.5 million square feet. Closing is expected within 60 days.
IMC is majority owned by funds managed by Bain Capital Partners and a subsidiary of certain investment funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. Related Companies, Bassett Furniture Industries (NASDAQ: BSET) and affiliates of Network World Market Center are also investors in the company.
The company will be led by Chief Executive Officer and industry veteran Robert Maricich and will operate from joint headquarters in High Point and Las Vegas. Maricich has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of World Market Center since 2008 and previously spent 11 years at Hickory, N.C.-based Century Furniture Industries, including as its President and CEO.
IMC has selected an outstanding team of executives to round out its senior management team. Collectively, these individuals represent more than 90 years of experience in the home furnishings and gift industries and include:
• Tom Mitchell will serve as President of Home Furnishings. Mitchell has been President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Home Furnishings Center since 2008 and has had a long and distinguished career in the home furnishings and trade mart business. Mitchell has
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successfully managed in excess of 7 million square feet of home furnishings trade marts in his 32-year career.

• Georgia Davis, who has served the home furnishings industry for more than 20 years, will lead the strategically critical gift industry initiative on an interim basis while a President of Gift & Home Décor is identified. Before joining World Market Center in 2007 as a consultant for its gift initiative, Davis was Executive Vice President of the Dallas Market Center for 20 years.

• Katherine Venezia will serve as Chief Financial Officer. Venezia has been at World Market Center since 2004 and oversees day-to-day financial matters. Previously, Venezia was Manager in corporate accounting and Controller of the New York Development division of Related Companies.

• Randy Eller will serve as IMC’s Chief Integration Officer. Eller will be responsible for the transition and integration of the acquired companies into one effective, integrated, world-class operation. Eller is President of Eller Enterprises, and his career has spanned more than 30 years in the gift and home sector, driving the expansion of some of the largest manufacturers in the gift industry.

―We have created a company that will deliver the most successful market experience for buyers and exhibitors from anywhere in the world,‖ said Maricich. ―We are confident in the future of this industry and the unprecedented platform that the combination of High Point and Las Vegas Markets presents. We are bringing together the best minds in the business, the most coveted properties and the deep financial and operating resources of leading firms who share our optimism about our industry’s growth prospects.‖
―This significant and strategic investment creates the world’s greatest marketing stage for the home furnishings industry,‖ said Phil Loughlin, Managing Director at Bain Capital. ―We are excited to support the industry’s foremost leadership team as they enable ever more productive interactions between home furnishings suppliers and buyers.‖
―International Market Centers will create a seamless market experience on both coasts and offer significant cross-category business opportunities,‖ said Scott Graves, Managing Director at Oaktree. ―The company’s plans include attracting additional traffic from international buyers, enhancing marketing efforts and creating new distribution and sales channels for exhibitors.‖
―I believe with all my heart that the resources we bring to High Point and Las Vegas will invigorate the respective Markets and our industry by attracting new buyers and laying the foundation for our future,‖ Mitchell stated. ―By bringing business partners together four times a year with new product, we will spur order writing on a scale that will deliver bottom line results for our tenants and fill retailers’ showrooms with the latest products.‖
―International Market Center’s strong capital position enables it to invest in – and vastly expand – the strategically significant gift and home décor category,‖ said Eller. ―We are uniquely positioned to tailor offerings to the thousands of buyers and sellers who are anxious to access world-class trade facilities and the most highly sought-after new products from domestic and international sources.‖
Davis added, ―This clearly positions Las Vegas as the pre-eminent Gift and Home Décor Market west of the Mississippi.‖
―These transactions represent a value proposition for exhibitors and retailers and will result in an even more successful market experience both nationally and internationally,‖ said Jeff T. Blau, President of Related Companies, whose involvement was integral to the origination and completion of the transaction. ―By acquiring and uniting these assets we are creating an unbeatable platform for tenants.‖
Kirkland & Ellis is counsel for Bain Capital, Paul Weiss is acting as legal advisor to the Oaktree entities, and Paul Hastings represents Related Companies.