By Julius Grafton.
There’s consolidation in the wind after Freeman sold their venue AV business to their major competitor PSAV recently, creating a dominant venue AV provider in the USA, and potentially changing the face of Australia’s Encore Event Technologies. PSAV may not try to do in Australia the things they do in the USA, but crazy things still could happen across their 60+ hotel venues here.
But the stalking giant right now is NEP Group, a USA privately owned international production conglomerate that provides outsourced services for major events and TV networks throughout the world. In Australia they most recently acquired live video house Big Picture, and in 2014 snagged Global Television. Over the past 12 months they’ve acquired six sizeable operations world-wide.
NEP are owned by The Carlyle Group who have funds under management north of 200 billion (US$). NEP have backing from the deepest pockets on the planet. They also had an Australian in a major role until 2017 when COO Keith Andrews died sadly and suddenly. Australia is in their DNA.
Now the local production industry are all talking, and the talk is that NEP want to move in hard. Industry sources tell me that Chameleon Touring, NW Group and possibly smaller Adelaide company Novatech Creative Event Technologies (NCET) are all in play. NCET are admired for their ‘system’, which has seen a small city production supplier grow to 50+ staff.
Some other significant names have been mentioned.
Also on the horizon are changes at PRG – Production Resource Group, the New York based major provider of event production. They have a sizeable Australian operation which they bought from Staging Connections (now Encore, owned by PSAV) who in turn acquired them from Bytecraft. Are you confused yet?
The final actor in this game of musical chairs could well be giant Canadian audio firm Solotech, which recently acquired SSE Audio Group in the UK. They presently have no physical presence in Australia, but with arch rivals Clair Brothers now owning JPJ Audio, and Eighth Day Sound operating from Sydney, anything is possible.
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