TBY talks to Peter Hall, Managing Director of Global Exhibitions, on Middle East strategy.

How would you describe the significance of the Middle East for the overall strategy of Informa?

Informa is a media and knowledge company with four different divisions. One is exhibitions, which is the division we represent here, the other is knowledge and networking, which is more conferences and training, the third is business intelligence, which is analytics, data, and proprietary information, and the fourth is academic publishing, which is books and journals for the corporate and academic world. We publish hundreds and thousands of books and journals about social sciences or humanities. The business unit here in the Middle East is predominately exhibitions but is also covering knowledge and networking and some business intelligence markets. If you look at us from a revenue and staff point of view we are probably three quarters exhibitions and the other quarter is a mix of conferences and training, business information and academic publishing. From an exhibition point of view the Middle East is a very important market. Our global exhibitions business turns over about USD680 million per year; we are probably the third largest exhibitions organizer in the world. Our main market is the US, which represents about 50% of our business but the second market is the Middle East. We run a variety of exhibitions from this office. Across the global enterprise we run about 200 exhibitions per year and employ about 1,300 colleagues around the world, just in the exhibitions part. The total of Informa PLC, which is listed on London Stock Exchange, is between 7,000 and 8,000 employees. The Middle East is one of our founding markets and up until about seven years ago we had no exposure to the US market, so most of our business was in the Middle East. Over the last five to six years we have been acquiring companies in the US because looking at the global exhibitions landscape, 50% of all exhibitions in the world are in the US. We built that exposure recently but the Middle East is a very old market for Informa; we have had this office here for over 25 years and were very quick to the market here. We also operate in African countries from here such as Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria.

Let me start by giving you an overview of Informa; we are a leading business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge and events business, operating in the Knowledge and Information Economy. Informa is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 100 with offices in 20 countries.

Informa's largest division, Global Exhibitions, turns over approximately USD680 million per year, making us one of the biggest trade show organisers in the world. Our main market is the US, which represents about 50 per cent of our revenues but the Middle East is the second largest region behind the US, in terms of turnover, so it is highly significant to the overall Informa business.