Comdex demise rumours fly

Rumours regarding the fate of Comdex and show promoter Key3Media Group Inc. are almost as common as new product announcements at the still giant show in Las Vegas.

Yet sources attending a Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. private dinner party for some of the industry elite Monday night claim that the end of Comdex as we know it is at hand.

According to one source, giant exhibition company Deutche Messe that holds the CeBit show in Europe will take over the fall show in Las Vegas.

CeBit has already muscled out the PC Expo show in June and will hold the first CeBit in the United States on June 18.

Other rumours circulating here suggest Shelly Adelson, founder and former owner of the Comdex event, will retake control of the show at a fire sale price.

Meanwhile, another rumor that Key3Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two days ago and is trying to prevent the news from leaking until after the show concludes this week is proving hard to confirm.

Rick Moore, vice president of public relations at Key3Media, said the rumor is "absolutely not true." The likelihood that a bankruptcy filing, a matter of public record, could be kept secret is problematic, Moore added.

However, Moore did say Key3Media is about US$300 million in debt despite the fact that this year's Comdex event will "make money."

"The company has too much debt on the books and among are options are a merger or acquisition," said Moore.

Filing for bankruptcy is more likely to happen when a potential partner or buyer works out a deal with Key3Media creditors and the bankruptcy court, Moore added.

Whatever the outcome, one thing is for certain: The high-tech press in attendance are planning to throw an "End of Comdex Party, as we know it" on Tuesday night.

The location of the soiree is a closely guarded secret with planners searching for an alternative site should the location leak out and the event grow too large.

Comdex attendance appears to be down with shorter cab lines and fewer vendors. Key3Media executives admit there are about 250 fewer exhibitors than last year.

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