NEW YORK — Forstmann Little & Co., the New York-based private investment firm, is making a substantial investment in ENK International, the New York-based trade show organization founded by Elyse Kroll.
Kroll said it is not an acquisition or ownership position by Forstmann Little, but an “investment” in the trade show organizer. She will continue to be a major shareholder of the company and will drive its expansion as president.
“I’ve been on my own for 20 years,” she told WWD on Wednesday. “This is not about selling out, but about looking at new markets and expanding horizons for all my exhibitors. It’s about firmly planting my feet on the ground and growing the business and deciding what markets are important.”
The transaction is expected to close in May.
Forstmann Little is the owner of IMG, the sports, media and entertainment company. IMG owns and produces Olympus Fashion Week here as well as fashion weeks in Los Angeles, Melbourne and Delhi, India. As a result, Kroll indicated that international growth was a distinct possibility.
“Our plans are about growth,” she said. “I would let an investor invest because of the relationships they have and where we can go and what we can do together. [Forstmann Little] respects fashion and they’re very interested in what we do. The point is to offer our exhibitors exposure and additional opportunities.”
In 2005, ENK conducted 22 events, 16 of which were held here, five in Los Angeles and a debut show in Las Vegas.
Theodore J. Forstmann, founding partner of Forstmann Little, said in a statement: “ENK has a very strong market position, an excellent management team and significant potential for growth, all characteristics we look for in our investments. Elyse has created a powerful brand and developed a unique vehicle for exhibitors to generate significant sales. As with all of our investments, we intend to partner with management and help ENK grow its business in the years ahead.”