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Comdex operator gets new name, topper, HQ

Medialive Intl. heads to L.A.; Priest-Heck becomes CEO

The operator of massive computer trade show Comdex and several other tech-oriented conferences and related publications emerged from a four-month stint in Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday with a new CEO, a new headquarters and a lot less debt.

Key3Media Group now will be called Medialive Intl. and soon will relocate its headquarters from Los Angeles to San Francisco, nearer to many of the tech firms that provide the base for the company’s business. The 350-person company will maintain offices in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Media, Penn., along with six overseas offices.

Chief operating officer Robert Priest-Heck takes over as CEO from Frederic Rosen, who ankled to pursue other interests. Rosen will remain on Medialive’s board of directors.

Medialive’s biggest property is Comdex, the annual Las Vegas confab of computer geeks that at one point during the 1990s tech boom attracted more than 200,000 attendees. Show attendance plummeted with the tech bust, but it remained profitable, with attendance around 125,000 last year.

The 2002 Comdex ranked 38th on Daily Variety sister publication Tradeshow Week‘s list of the top 200 shows nationally (based on square footage of paid exhibitor space). Another of the company’s shows, Networld+Interop, ranked 62nd on the same list.

But Key3Media remained hobbled by huge debt levels accrued in a series of acquisitions during the go-go years, forcing it to close a number of regional tech shows it created. Key3Media opted to go into bankruptcy in February as part of a negotiated deal with its largest debt-holder, Thomas Wiesel Capital Partners of San Francisco.

Under the deal, Wiesel took the company private and wiped out 87% of its debt, along with 90% of its annual interest loads. Wiesel now owns 90% of Medialive, while some unsecured creditors have rights to buy the remaining 10%.

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