| May 3, 2011 |
Investors announce merger of High Point and Las Vegas Markets
Boh staff
By Staff

The newly-formed International Market Centers, L.P. (IMC) announced today an investment of approximately $1 billion to unite showrooms in High Point, N.C. and Las Vegas, NV to create a new platform for buyers and sellers.

IMC owns 13 buildings encompassing more than 10.6 million sf, including the International Home Furnishings Center and the Market Square Complex (consisting of eight properties) in High Point as well as all of the World Market Center Las Vegas buildings. All have been recapitalized with significant equity investments, providing for long-term stability and creating a growth platform for the industry. Financial details of the transactions were not disclosed.

IMC has also reached agreement to acquire five additional buildings including Showplace, Showplace West and three North Hamilton Street showroom venues in High Point—totalling nearly one million sf. IMC will own and operate a total of 18 showroom buildings spanning 11.5 million square feet.

IMC is majority owned by funds managed by Bain Capital Partners and by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. Related Companies, Bassett Furniture Industries (NASDAQ: BSET) and affiliates of World Market Center are also investors in IMC.

The company will be led by CEO Robert Maricich and will operate from joint headquarters in High Point and Las Vegas. Maricich has served as President and CEO of World Market Center.

"We have created a company that will deliver the most successful market experience for buyers and exhibitors from anywhere in the world," said Maricich. "We are confident in the future of this industry and the unprecedented platform that the combination of High Point and Las Vegas Markets presents. We are bringing together the best minds in the business, the most coveted properties and the deep financial and operating resources of leading firms who share our optimism about our industry’s growth prospects."

"This significant and strategic investment creates the world’s greatest marketing stage for the home furnishings industry," said Phil Loughlin, Managing Director at Bain Capital. "We are excited to support the industry’s foremost leadership team as they enable ever more productive interactions between home furnishings suppliers and buyers."

"International Market Centers will create a seamless market experience on both coasts and offer significant cross-category business opportunities," said Scott Graves, Managing Director at Oaktree. "The company’s plans include attracting additional traffic from international buyers, enhancing marketing efforts and creating new distribution and sales channels for exhibitors."

"I believe with all my heart that the resources we bring to High Point and Las Vegas will invigorate the respective Markets and our industry by attracting new buyers and laying the foundation for our future," Mitchell stated. "By bringing business partners together four times a year with new product, we will spur order writing on a scale that will deliver bottom line results for our tenants and fill retailers’ showrooms with the latest products."

"International Market Center’s strong capital position enables it to invest in – and vastly expand – the strategically significant gift and home décor category," said Eller. "We are uniquely positioned to tailor offerings to the thousands of buyers and sellers who are anxious to access world-class trade facilities and the most highly sought-after new products from domestic and international sources."

"These transactions represent a value proposition for exhibitors and retailers and will result in an even more successful market experience both nationally and internationally," said Jeff T. Blau, President of Related Companies, whose involvement was integral to the origination and completion of the transaction. "By acquiring and uniting these assets we are creating an unbeatable platform for tenants."

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