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UPDATE 2-Informa sees 2-3 year road to full recovery for events

* CEO says events would take 2-3 yrs to fully return

* Informa posts 71% plunge in adjusted profit (Writes through with CEO, finance director comments, background)

April 22 (Reuters) - It will take two to three years for the events business to fully recover from the pandemic, the head of British company Informa said on Thursday, adding it would seek to rebuild confidence on the safety of in-person meetings in 2021.

Trade shows scheduled to return to Las Vegas in June would be “symbolically important in America” Chief Executive Stephen Carter told Reuters, with World of Concrete marking its first major event there since the pandemic began.

Exhibitions in Las Vegas will adhere to new protocols around the number of visitors in any area, layouts of floors to give exhibitors more space, improved air control and other cleaning and hygiene measures, Carter added.

The world’s largest exhibitions company joined forces with other organisers last year to develop the guidelines to ensure a safe return of the events industry.

While domestic events in Mainland China have returned to more or less normal, Informa said America and Middle East were ahead of Europe in terms of reopening.

The costs of additional COVID-19 measures would be shared with venues and partly passed on to customers, Finance Director Gareth Wright said.

The impact of the pandemic was clear in figures for 2020 published on Thursday.

Informa reported a 71% plunge in adjusted operating profit to 267.8 million pounds ($373.1 million) on revenue of 1.66 billion pounds, down 43%, for the year ended Dec. 31. Its shares slipped 1% by 0910 GMT.

Informa is currently a “tale of two cities”, Carter said, with around half of its business in subscription, data information, advanced learning and research performing between “normal and slightly better”.

Informa, which owns the Taylor & Francis academic publisher, has been cutting costs in the past year by laying off staff and closing offices, while raising equity and debt.

The pace of return of physical events will determine the extent of improvement beyond this year’s baseline revenue commitment of 1.7 billion pounds, it said.

Informa said it expanded “significantly” into virtual and hybrid events in 2020 and is targeting further growth this year.

Thomson Reuters, the parent company of Reuters News, has also switched its Reuters Events business to a hybrid strategy for 2021. ($1 = 0.7177 pounds) (Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Keith Weir)

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