Arts & Entertainment and Travel & Tourism

Exhibition companies merge

April 7, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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Titanic artifacts set course for Grand Rapids
The mission of RMS Titanic, Inc., a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, is to preserve the legacy and full story of the Titanic for all time. The infamous ship sank on April 15, 1912. Courtesy Grand Rapids Public Museum

The Titanic and dinosaurs are coming together.

Two museum groups said yesterday that they will merge, including Premier Exhibitions, which is controlled by Mark Seller’s Sellers Capital. Sellers is a local businessman and owner of BarFly Ventures, which is the parent of the HopCat bar chain, Stella's Lounge, McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon and Grand Rapids Brewing Co.

Premier Exhibitions in Atlanta will merge with Dinoking Tech in Richmond, British Columbia.

Premier holds the rights to the Titanic exhibit, and Dinoking is the holding company of “Dinosaurs Unearthed.”

"By combining Premier's assets with DK's, we've created a stronger company with the scope and capabilities to leverage long-term growth opportunities in the marketplace,” Sellers said. “With the infusion of growth capital, Premier's core operating business will finally be stabilized, and we can focus on further leveraging existing content by bringing our exhibitions, as well as new content, to previously untapped markets throughout the world.”

The deal

An investor group will provide up to $13.5 million to Premier to repay $8 million of debt and $5.5 million for corporate purposes. The deal is subject to Premier shareholder approval.

The agreement will see Premier acquire all outstanding shares of Dinoking for $6.4 million payable in Premier shares or shares exchangeable for Premier shares at the transaction's close.

Dinoking shareholders will also see up to $8.6 million in cash or stock from Premier if and when certain milestones are reached.

Once the transaction is complete, Dinoking shareholders and the investor group will control 47 percent of Premier’s voting shares and a right to nominate four of the seven board members.

Dinoking President Daoping Bao will serve as Premier’s president and CEO, with Dinoking becoming an indirect subsidiary.

"As leaders in the industry, Premier and DK will seek to leverage the combined brand portfolio and capitalize on the significant global opportunities inherent in this transaction,” Bao said. “We look to expand our footprint globally, especially in Asia, where we believe there are opportunities for our combined entity to deliver world-class exhibitions and other new content."

Merger benefits

The companies believe several key benefits will come from the deal: strengthens Premier's leadership position as a dominant global exhibition provider by combining a number of "extremely successful brands"; leverages DK's existing infrastructure and relationships to expand presence in Asia and other markets; provides financing solutions allowing Premier to focus on growth and revenue and content diversification; and broadens strong operational expertise with a combined management team with "a track record of bringing successful and innovative content to market."

Funds from the investors will also allow Premier to finish projects such as “Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition” and a exhibition center in New York named “Premier on 5th.”

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