Freeman Finds Deal in its Wheelhouse

Freeman, the Dallas-based marketing and conference coordinator, has acquired Wheelhouse Solutions, a parent company to several companies to which the Texas company is a client. Wheelhouse was a portfolio company of North Carolina private equity firm Pamlico Capital, formerly Wachovia Capital Partners. MHT Securities advised on the transaction.

PRESS RELEASE:

August 8, 2011 – MHT Securities is pleased to announce that it served as financial advisor for Freeman, the premier provider of integrated marketing solutions for face-to-face events, in its acquisition of Wheelhouse Solutions. Wheelhouse is the parent organization of three companies engaged directly in Freeman’s business activities: Champion, which has long been a respected competitor of Freeman’s national expo business; George Fern Company, a leading regional provider of event services; and Immersa Marketing, an experiential marketing firm. MHT Securities, a wholly owned subsidiary of MHT Partners, acted as the exclusive advisor to Freeman. The transaction closed on June 21, 2011.
The deal creates an even stronger industry leadership position for Freeman, which is one of America’s largest private companies. Wheelhouse is among the top three event marketing services companies in the U.S. and, until the acquisition, was a portfolio company of Pamlico Capital (formerly Wachovia Capital Partners), which invested in the company in 2005.
Founded in 1927, Freeman stages thousands of conventions, expositions, trade shows, and corporate meetings every year and has become the largest business of its kind in the United States, serving over 51% of the Top 200 domestic shows. Freeman’s operations include audio visual solutions, event design and production, preparation of exhibits, marketing and branding strategy, and logistics services on a national and international scale.
In addition to providing transaction support, MHT assisted Freeman in evaluating the strategic and operational fit of the Champion, Fern, and Immersa businesses. The acquisition immediately expands Freeman’s customer base and portfolio of shows while enhancing their technology offerings with customized solutions for the show organizer and exhibitor.
“MHT went far beyond the typical scope of a traditional investment bank,” said Joe Popolo, CEO of Freeman. “They worked with our broader management team to evaluate the full implications of this acquisition. They thought about the long-term effects, and they clearly understood our objectives going into the deal. MHT made sure that our transaction strategy was dictated by our business strategy, not the other way around.”
Mike McGill, Managing Director of MHT Partners and MHT Securities, said, “We are delighted to have represented Freeman in this acquisition. Freeman is a perfect example of MHT’s focus on advising clients as they navigate industry-changing transactions that create outstanding new growth opportunities.”
Lan Harrington, a Principal at MHT, said, “The Freeman relationship showcases what we do best here at MHT, which is to marry stellar transaction advisory with thoughtful strategic support. We believe this is what makes us invaluable to our partner management teams.”
About MHT Partners
Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, MHT is an investment bank focused on providing the highest level of advisory services to middle market companies, private equity fund managers and private equity limited partners. MHT’s staff of professionals has built a track record of providing exceptional transaction execution and a premium level of service to its clients. We are committed to developing long-term, trusted relationships through our hard work, dedication and superior capabilities. MHT offers its services through two business lines: MHT Partners offers M&A advisory, capital raising and strategic advisory services to high-growth middle market companies; and MHT Secondary Advisors provides private equity limited partners with buy-side and sell-side advisory services for secondary fund interests and fund valuation services. MHT conducts its investment banking activity through MHT Securities, L.P., a member of FINRA/SIPC.
About Freeman
Since 1927, Freeman has provided customers with comprehensive services for face-to-face marketing events including expositions, conventions, corporate events and exhibits. Headquartered in Dallas, with 70 offices in 40 cities in the U.S. and Canada, Freeman produces more than 4,300 expositions annually, including 51% of the largest 200 U.S. trade shows, and more than 14,000 other events worldwide. Freeman has the ability to assist customers in all aspects of the trade show process, from set-up to take-down and everything in between. An employee-owned company, Freeman places an emphasis on respect for people, providing unparalleled customer service. Freeman has received numerous awards for excellence in the trade show industry including the 2010 Trade Show Executive Innovation Awards, a top ranking in the InformationWeek 500 2010 list and a top-25 ranking as one of the “Top 100 Places to Work” in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in 2010. For more information visit www.freemanco.com.