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UPDATE 1-Informa forecasts profit plunge as pandemic crushes events industry

(Adds detail on events, chairman move, background)

Jan 6 (Reuters) - Events group Informa Plc on Wednesday forecast a more than 70% plunge in 2020 profit as the industry was ravaged by coronavirus-driven restrictions and halts in physical exhibitions worldwide.

Hundreds of global events organised by Informa were cancelled or postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, denting a major chunk of revenue for the firm behind shows including China Beauty Expo, Monaco Yacht Show, World of Concrete and Arab Health.

Mainland China resumed events since June last year, but several major markets including the United States and Europe remained virtually shut and Britain imposed another national lockdown to stem the spread of a new coronavirus variant.

The world’s largest exhibitions group said it ran its first physical events in the last few months of 2020 in Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Egypt and Japan. Informa added that 90% of physical events outside Mainland China are now scheduled to run from June.

“(2021) is likely to be a year of return for physical events, rather than full rebound and recovery,” Informa said in a statement.

To buffer the impact on its finances, Informa last year laid off staff, closed offices, cancelled dividends, raised 1 billion pounds in equity and restructured its debt.

The company expects adjusted operating profit in the range of 250 million pounds ($341.13 million) to 270 million pounds for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020. That compares with a profit of 933.1 million pounds in 2019.

Separately, the company on Tuesday named John Rishton to succeed Derek Mapp as chairman. ($1 = 0.7329 pounds) (Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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