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Informa lifts outlook as China leads trade show recovery

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By Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) -Informa raised its 2021 revenue forecast on Thursday as the UK-based events organiser looks to hold more trade shows in China, the United States and Middle East this year, adding it was confident of exhibitors returning in 2022.

The world's largest exhibitions group, whose upcoming shows include Black Hat USA and Global Health Exhibition Riyadh, raised its revenue forecast for the year to about 1.8 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) from 1.7 billion expected previously.

The company said it has more than 100 events scheduled for the second half in the United States, Middle East and China, adding it was possible that its Chinese business could return close to 2019 levels next year, though Europe continued to lag.

Shares in the blue-chip FTSE 100 index constituent were up 3.3% at 500.2 pence by 0906 GMT.

The events industry has been battered by the pandemic as organisers had to deal with hundred of postponements and cancellations, and while some events have lately returned this has often been with smaller crowds due to social distancing.

However Informa said business trends were improving. "We've seen rebooking rates which are very comparable to previous years and that gives us quite a significant degree of confidence," Chief Executive Stephen Carter told Reuters.

While Mainland China is leading the recovery, Informa said events in North America and Middle East were close behind.

For the six months to June 30 Informa reported a more than 40% drop in adjusted operating profit to 69.2 million pounds on revenue of 688.9 million.

For its subscription business, which includes academic journal Taylor & Francis, it expects annual revenue growth of more than 2% on "robust" renewals and strength in e-books.

Also on Thursday peer Relx, whose events business is much smaller than Informa's, reported a smaller loss for the division thanks to cost cuts. Strength in analytics helped it lift its 2021 outlook.

($1 = 0.7166 pounds)

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in BengaluruEditing by Uttaresh.V and David Holmes)

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