13 Sep 2023

PortAventura Might Go Up for Sale Soon

(eap) Rumors about a possible sale of the Spanish theme park resort PortAventura World have been circulating for some time. The two associates – the private equity firms of Investindustrial and KKR – are said to now be in concrete preparations for a sale of the Catalan leisure destination. This was recently reported by the Spanish business and financial newspaper Cinco Días, among other media. After PortAventura World, the resort complex including the eponymous theme park, the Caribe Aquatic Park, Ferrari Land (opened in 2017) and several hotels, saw heavy losses due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Spain’s tourism and leisure industry has recovered, at least in terms of guest numbers. This is also the case for PortAventura World: In 2022, the destination welcomed more than five million guests as in pre-pandemic times, recording corresponding revenues. Also, there are options and plans for a future expansion of the theme park resort, e.g. in the form of additional hotels, MICE facilities and restaurants. All in all, solid preconditions for a sale of the entire resort at a profitable transaction value. The possible price is estimated at one billion Euro. However, the definite sale of PortAventura World has not been communicated at this point in time, a possible transaction offer might be made next year.

Looking back: PortAventura was founded in 1995 by a Spanish investor consortium and the main investors La Caixa and Anheuser Busch (later joined by the Tussauds Group). In its first year of operation, the theme park, located just over an hour’s car drive south of Barcelona, already attracted some 2.7 million guests. Two years after its founding, Universal Studios took over the management and shares of the Tussauds Group, and a period of change followed, coupled with multiple renaming of the destination. In 2004, NBC Universal sold its PortAventura shares to La Caixa. The Spanish bank, which today is CaixaBank, S.A., also took over Anheuser Busch’s shares and practically became the sole owner. In 2005, the park regained its original name, PortAventura. After economically unsteady years, marked among other things by the Euro crisis, capital and share reallocations, the foundation of PortAventura Entertainment S.A. (PAESA) took place in 2010, in which the Italian-British private equity firm Investindustrial acquired 50 percent. The management also became the responsibility of Investindustrial, followed by high investments in the further development of the theme park destination. As of 2012, Investindustrial was the sole owner of PAESA, some time later the U.S. venture capital company KKR took over 49.9 percent of the shares. It now remains to be seen what the ownership structure of PAESA and thus PortAventura World will look like in the future.

This year, PortAventura aims at setting a new visitor record and is on a good track to achieve this goal, not least thanks to the success of the new attraction “Uncharted”, a dark ride rollercoaster built by Intamin & Sally Dark Rides which opened this summer (read all about it in our latest EAP magazine issue). ■

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