Abu Dhabi said it spent more than 2.3 billion dirhams ($626.4 million) on buying ExCeL London, an organiser of exhibitions and conferences which is helping stage the 2012 Olympics in Britain.
State-owned Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company said it bought control of ExCeL through a British unit it did not identify, as part of a strategy to diversify its economy away from oil, of which it is the world's fifth-largest producer.
"This very important acquisition is designed to directly support the Abu Dhabi government's economic diversification strategy," Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al-Nahayan, chairman of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions, said in a statement.
"Ensuring Abu Dhabi's role as a major global business tourism centre is an integral element of the strategy," Sheikh Sultan said.
ExCeL London, a private company linked to Malaysian tycoon Ananda Krishnan, has hosted more than 2,000 events since it started in 2000, including the British International Motor Show and the London Boat Show, according to the statement.
"This acquisition will allow us to attract fresh investment, events and talent to the UAE capital and demonstrates our serious commitment to London, the UK and the international events industry," Sheikh Tahnoon said.
ExCeL's exhibition commitments, including its role in staging combat sports, table tennis, and weightlifting at the the 2012 Olympics, will not be affected by the acquisition, Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions said.
"The benefits to Abu Dhabi include increased international awareness of the city and the emirate, international training opportunities for UAE nationals and an opportunity to support international events," ExCeL Chief Executive Officer Simon Hogan said in the statement. (Reuters)For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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