Messe Frankfurt buys majority stake in South Africa Show Services

Ute Schuchardt
Ute Schuchardt

Messe Frankfurt, one of the world’s leading trade fair organisers, will have a permanent presence in Africa in future. The group has acquiring a 56 per cent majority stake in South African trade fair organiser South African Show Services (SASS), based in Johannesburg.

The SASS portfolio includes trade fairs such as the Johannesburg International Motor Show, the Rand Show, the AMID Motorcycle Expo, the Johannesburg Boat Show and the SA Outdoor Lifestyle Show. The new subsidiary’s portfolio also includes Automechanika Johannesburg, which has been organised under licence by SASS since 2009.

The remaining 44 per cent of shares will continue to be held by the former South African shareholders. The company is to be renamed South African Shows Messe Frankfurt. The previous South African Show Services management team – Raymond Burke, Pula Dippenaar and Phillip Otto – will remain on board, joined by Ute Schuchardt, who has transferred from Frankfurt to Johannesburg.

Uwe Behm, member of the executive board of Messe Frankfurt: “This transaction allows us to further expand our global presence. Our activities in southern Africa demonstrate our firm belief that the future offers a wealth of opportunities for the African continent. We are pleased to be joining forces with such a successful South African company that is ideally acquainted with the local market conditions.”

With regard to Messe Frankfurt’s participation, Raymond Burke, chairman of South African Show Services, explained: “We are delighted to be working together with one of the world’s leading trade fair companies. With its events all around the world, Messe Frankfurt is a prime example of internationality in practice, and it is exciting to be part of this international company. We believe this partnership has major growth potential and will open up many opportunities for us to grow our existing exhibitions and also to attract additional exhibitors to our country. Messe Frankfurt has in the region of 50 international sales partners throughout the world, which will be of considerable benefit in growing our business.”

Pula Dippenaar, chief executive officer of South African Show Services, added: “With this move, we are solidifying the partnership that was established with the Automechanika event in South Africa.”

Messe Frankfurt sees South Africa as having great potential for developing into a trade fair centre for the African continent – not unlike the role fulfilled by Germany in Europe.
The trade fairs in the portfolio of the new company complement the existing worldwide range of events in the “Mobility & Logistics” business field. For instance, the Johannesburg International Motor Show is the most important automotive fair in Africa and a constant fixture in the global trade fair calendar for the automotive industry.

Messe Frankfurt has been active in Africa since 1954. It was the first German trade fair company to open a representative office in Johannesburg. The group is represented all over Africa by its sales partners. With its new venture in Johannesburg, Messe Frankfurt is now opening up a subsidiary of its own in Africa.