This article, written by Jennifer Tan (left, Director, Research & Products, Equities & Fixed Income, at the Singapore Exchange), originally was published in SGX's kopi-C: the Company brew series on 14 October 2016. The article is republished with permission.
The circus - with its acrobats, animals and Big Top - has always held a special magic for Cityneon Executive Director Ron Tan.
After a long courtship, VHE finally signed a multi-year contract in 2013 with Marvel Entertainment, a wholly owned unit of Walt Disney Company, to develop interactive exhibitions under the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N brand.
Avengers and Autobots
The company held its Marvel exhibition, featuring Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow, in Paris between April and September this year. In June, it also opened a permanent Marvel exhibition in the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, located on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip.
VHE will unveil The Avengers in Singapore later this month, with the interactive exhibition taking up 20,000 square feet at the Science Centre. Similar Marvel installations will be rolled out in Taiwan next June, and in Australia in December 2017.
It will also launch the Transformers exhibition, using revolutionary technologies such as 3D, robotics and multimedia, in Las Vegas and China next year.
Tan, a Bachelor of Science graduate from the University of Hawaii, was appointed to Cityneon's Board as Executive Director last November after VHE became a wholly owned subsidiary.
Cityneon Holdings Ltd purchased VHE through a cash-and-stock deal worth over S$20 million in September 2015. The move added a new segment - Intellectual Property (IP) Rights - to its stable of four traditional businesses, comprising Interior Architecture, Events, Exhibitions and Experiential Environment.
Established in 1956 as a supplier of electrical appliances, Cityneon has morphed into an ideas agency, specializing in remoulding customer and brand experiences through its interior architecture, experiential events and exhibitions business divisions.
As long as you focus on fundamentals, I believe the right opportunities will open up.
- Ron Tan
It was listed on the Mainboard of the Singapore Exchange in 2005, and has a current market capitalisation of over S$220 million. Bursa Malaysia-listed Star Media Group Bhd owns 52.5% of Cityneon, while Tan is its single largest individual shareholder with a 16.4% stake.
Earlier this year, Cityneon placed out 40 million new and vendor shares to China-based strategic investor China Media Capital, as well as other institutional and financial investors, raising net proceeds of S$10.6 million.
CMC, a media and entertainment investment group founded by Chinese tycoon Rui Gang Li, has a fund size of US$1.6 billion. Its portfolio includes Star China, TVB, Oriental DreamWorks, and Hong Kong-listed IMAX China.
This alliance enables VHE to leverage on CMC's government and industry contacts to expand in China. It also allows the company to deepen its relationships with studios through CMC's existing partnerships with Disney, Warner Brothers, and 21st Century Fox.
In the 2016 year-to-date, Cityneon shares have generated a total return of 183%, with their value nearly tripling over the period. In comparison, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) and the broader FTSE ST All-Share Index have registered a total return of 1.0% and 3.5% respectively in the year thus far.
Global peers that focus on experiential exhibitions and entertainment include New York-listed Viad Corp, as well as Paragon Entertainment Ltd and Merlin Entertainments PLC, both listed on the London Stock Exchange. Regional peers include SGX's Kingsmen Creatives Ltd, Kosdaq-listed Sigong Tech Co Ltd, and Pico Far East Holdings Ltd on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
|♦ Robust Pipeline|
Looking ahead, Cityneon will capitalise on alliances for future growth - whether it be partnerships with studios, key players based in local markets, or strategic shareholders like CMC, Tan said.
VHE is also in the midst of sourcing licensing rights for the third franchise that could be launched in 2018. "We're looking for new IP rights, seeking popular IP as well as core IP, like the Avengers and Transformers, which resonate and can stand the test of time."
On the personal front, the core values that Tan upholds include learning from mistakes, focusing on fundamentals, and the importance of family.
"The years of experiences - the many ups and downs - will give you a number of reference points for future decisions that you need to make," he noted.
"We should all try to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. But the tendency is that we as humans tend to repeat our mistakes, largely due to certain personality traits," he added, with a wry smile.
At the same time, staying focused is critical. "Sometimes, it's really not about your own efforts. A lot depends on opportunities and timing, as was the case with how we clinched the Marvel contract," he recalled.
"As long as you focus on fundamentals, I believe the right opportunities will open up."
Needless to say, a stable family is important in providing support and perspective. Tan has two daughters, aged four and 19.
"I learn a lot more from my 19-year-old than she does from me," he admitted with a laugh. "Her innocence and enthusiasm - always wanting to save the world - embodies a pure and happy spirit, and some of that rubs off on me."
Adults also tend to be more hardened and cynical, in contrast to the guilelessness and openness of the young. "Kids can teach you a lot of things - they are transparent, always ready to ask for help, while we tend to hold back, due to pride or fear."
Tan remembers his own childhood, where he experienced little family time due to his parents' busy work schedules. "I want to avoid developing that same pattern with my own family," he said, adding that his family time usually involves playing board and card games with his daughters.
"The family is where your core values are. If you look at how your kids respond to you, how close they are to you, all those characteristics are a true reflection of who you are," he noted.
"It's all about how your family influences you and how you, in turn, influence your family. That dynamic is what keeps me going."
|Year ended 31 Dec
|Net attributable profit||871||2,345||894||-4,725|
|Half-year ended 30 Jun
|Net attributable profit||4,742||-713||NM*|
*NM - not meaningful
|Outlook and Risks|
Cityneon Holdings Ltd
Cityneon is a leading service provider of creative solutions in the area of Interior Architecture, Events, Exhibitions and all manner of Experiential Environment to global corporations, brands, businesses, governments and international agencies worldwide. It has also developed very specialised expertise in the area of conceptualising, designing and building of Museums, Galleries, Theme Parks and Attractions, including National Pavilions at World Expositions. Through immersive storytelling and state-of-the art technologies, Cityneon creates breathtaking and emotionally stirring experiences. The Group's network across the world, together with our international partnerships, provides the company the opportunity to serve its clients globally.
The company website is: www.cityneon.net
Click here for the company's StockFacts page.
For second quarter financial results for the period ended 30 June 2016, click here.