OC Group in merger with Third Pole

Leading sports marketing and events company forms

Friday September 3rd 2010, Author: Lou Newlands, Location: United Kingdom

OC Group and mainland Europe-based ThirdPole have been acquired in a non-cash deal that will bring together their competences into a global leading sports marketing and events company. The two brands will remain, OC continuing to specialise in professional sailing teams and events, and ThirdPole which is a new and expanding force in Outdoor Events ranging from running, cycling and biathlon, to more extreme sports including adventure and trail running races. OC and ThirdPole combined aspire to become a world leader of outdoor events on all playing fields: oceans, lakes, mountains, forests and deserts and city centres.

The new business will fully own the existing operating companies in France, Switzerland and the UK, and will continue their work with global brands, host cities and regions, sporting federations and other promoters all over the world. The combined business already has events in place for 2011 in more than a dozen countries in Europe, USA and Asia. As the two main shareholders, Rémi Duchemin will take up the role of Group CEO and Mark Turner will remain fully engaged in the overall business as Executive Chairman.

“The merger with ThirdPole is a really exciting new venture for us,” said Mark Turner. “OC Group has a great team of people who have delivered first-class events and sailing programmes worldwide over the past decade and our clients can rest assured that we will continue to do so in the future. ThirdPole already manages some outstanding outdoor event properties and we can combine our skills and experience to enhance what we do already in sailing, and help build some great new events together as well.

“Those who know me well know I have a passion for a number of outdoor sports beyond sailing - that’s certainly been a key factor for me in this new development. The Outdoor Events sector has been developing fast, particularly in France, where I’ve spent most of my time these past years and it’s an exciting diversification for our company. This will not affect our determination for OC to remain as a leading player in professional sailing. Both sectors are well positioned at a time when strong sporting values, accessibility for the fans, and the importance of our natural environment are valued more than ever by brands and venues in the sports sponsorship world. We’ve never been afraid to push the boundaries in sport or to challenge tradition and these values, along with a very strong work ethic, will remain core to our strategy.

“There have been a number of new and interesting opportunities recently on a personal and business level, but this one will allow me to get closer again to the incredible sportsmen and women that take on amazing challenges. Motivating people to push beyond their limits has always been the most rewarding aspect of sport business for me.”

ThirdPole was created by Rémi Duchemin and Benjamin Chandelier, both former employees at Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the organiser of the Tour de France, the Paris International Marathon, the Alstom French Golf Open and other major events. As Head of Business Development, Rémi was responsible for the creation and management of the Merrell Oxygen Challenge and worked across all the sports that ASO are renowned for.

Although a young company, ThirdPole has already organised its own mass participation events in the endurance sports arena, such as the Geneva Marathon for Unicef, and has delivered consulting services to other events like the Merrell Oxygen Challenge (unique outdoor festival with mountain-biking, trail running and orienteering in the Cantal, France), the Biathlon World Cup 2011 in Annecy-Le Grand Bornand, and also for brands attracted by the strong values and potential of these disciplines. ThirdPole is developing several new projects and events in Western Europe and beyond, especially in the fast-growing market of running and cycling.

“We are very proud of the marriage of sailing and endurance sports, two worlds which maintain very close relations and common values, such as, nature, humility, facing adversity and conviviality,” said Rémi Duchemin. “The new business born from the merger of OC and ThirdPole aspires to become a world leader of Outdoor Events on all playing fields: oceans, lakes, mountains, forests and deserts but also city centres. The new group has the privilege to work with a dynamic, international and multicultural team, driving the evolution towards more sustainable business practice. The skills convergence of OC and ThirdPole, in particular event management, logistics, communications, sales and office management, will allow us to set up a strong strategy to reach our ambitious objectives. “

The Group’s sailing events division, OC Events, will continue to be a leading force in the sport of professional sailing as Organiser of the award-winning and groundbreaking Extreme Sailing Series™, co-creator and consultant to the Barcelona World Race, owner of The Transat™ single-handed transatlantic race, and Organiser, on behalf of Artemis Investment Management, of The Artemis Challenge. Offshore Challenges, the sailing team division, will continue putting together effective racing campaigns, in the IMOCA circuit (most recently with Artemis Ocean Racing and BT Team Ellen), with Extreme 40s, and with the development of the Artemis Offshore Academy. OC Group also remains strategic and technical consultant to the Oman Sail project, that uses sailing to contribute to the development of Oman and Omanis, which OC helped create and develop in 2007. OC also continues to advise and work with other brands in sailing, such as, Nespresso with the Nespresso Cup. OC Vision, the Group’s digital agency, continues to provide first-class supporting marketing services to both its own projects and those of key clients. OC Group also recently announced a strategic partnership with Yellowbrick for the operational delivery of its OCTracker yacht tracking service.

OC Group was set up in 1997 as Offshore Challenges by Mark Turner and Dame Ellen MacArthur. MacArthur now focuses her time fully in the sustainability arena and has no involvement in the new merger. MacArthur launched her new Foundation yesterday

ThirdPole was established in 2009 by Rémi Duchemin and Benjamin Chandelier to manage outdoor sports events and to deliver high-standard consulting services to brands, public authorities and other event promoters. After a rapid growth in 2009-2010, their development is now based on endurance disciplines, mountain activities and combined sports.

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