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Cannes Lions owner Ascential to split its portfolio

Ascential is the firm behind the Cannes Lions festival (Ascential)
Ascential is the firm behind the Cannes Lions festival (Ascential)

Ascential has revealed plans to break up its business, in a move that will see its event arm behind the Cannes Lions advertising festival remain London-listed but other divisions being sold or moving.

The events and data firm gave the strategic review update alongside reporting a 49% sales jump to £520 million in 2022 and adjusted underlying profits of £118 million, ahead of the top end of analyst expectations.

It was boosted by the return of the Cannes Lions physical event following the removal of lockdown rules, and its other divisions also recorded growth.

The FTSE 250 firm is now proposing a series of actions which “better position each business to independently pursue and achieve their growth ambitions, while also realising the best near and long-term value for shareholders”.

Shares in Ascential leapt 49p, or more than 23%, to 257p following the update.

Under the latest proposals, the events business, which comprises Cannes Lions and Money 20/20 conferences and generates sales of around £177 million according to analyst estimates, would continue with a UK listing as Ascential. Butthe digital commerce division, which is US-focused, would be listed in New York.

Ascential, led by Duncan Painter, added that a sale of trend forecasting firm WGSN is expected. It made sales of around £108 million in 2022, analysts estimate.

The chief executive said: “Our plan of action will create the best structure for each distinct business to thrive.”

Painter added: “Potential sale proceeds are earmarked for both near-term returns to shareholders and fortifying stand-alone events and digital commerce listed companies in the UK and US, respectively.”