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Informa sees gradual return of trade shows after annual profit beat

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(Reuters) -Britain's Informa said on Thursday 2021 will be a transition year with strength in its subscription-led businesses, further expansion in B2B digital services and trade shows gradually returning, while reporting a profit beat for 2020.

The world's largest exhibitions company posted a 71% plunge in adjusted operating profit to 267.8 million pounds ($373.13 million) on revenue of 1.66 billion pounds, down 43%, for the year ended Dec. 31.

Analysts on average had expected Informa to post adjusted operating profit of 265 million pounds on revenue of 1.66 billion pounds, according to a company-compiled consensus.

After taking a one-off COVID-19 impairment charge in the first half of 2020, Informa posted a statutory operating loss of 880.4 million pounds for the year.

Informa has been cutting costs in the past year by laying off staff and closing offices, while postponing events and raising equity and debt to cushion the blow from the health crisis that has battered the events industry.

The company said the pace of return of physical events will determine the extent of improvement beyond this year's baseline revenue commitment of 1.7 billion pounds.

Mainland China, North America and the Middle East have tracked ahead of Europe in reopening, Informa said. World of Concrete kicks off in Las Vegas in early June, marking its first major trade show in the United States, its largest market, since the pandemic began.

($1 = 0.7177 pounds)

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)