Parques Reunidos, the listed Spanish theme park operator, could soon be the subject of a public-to-private buyout led by private equity firm Advent International.
Parques Reunidos’ shares climbed 3.5 per cent to E6.19 in early trading as Advent submitted a E6.25 per share offer valuing the firm at around E165m. This represents an improvement on Advent’s previous offer of E6.10 per share, made through its Global Private Equity IV Limited Partnership fund. Major shareholders representing 59 per cent of the target’s shares have agreed to the latest offer, putting Advent within reach of the 75 per cent level of acceptance required for the bid to go through.
The company, which is Spain’s largest leisure group, was floated by private equity firms including Cinven and Mercapital in 1999. The event made headlines when Clarissa, an elephant used as a publicity tool to trumpet the first day’s trading, broke free and rampaged through Central Madrid in rush hour, crushing two traffic signs and scattering pedestrians before being felled by tranquilliser darts.
The company’s shares tumbled with an equal lack of grace, from E5.4 at the end of 1999 to E2.35 at the end of 2002, with the market capitalisation falling over the same period from E114.9m to E65.4m. Fuelled by Advent’s interest, the shares have recovered spectacularly in 2003, despite the firm making a loss of E300,000 in the first nine months of its fiscal year to the end of September.
Parques Reunidos was formed in 1967 to operate an amusement park concession in Casa de Campo, Madrid, which was granted by Madrid Town Hall. It has expanded through the acquisition of amusement parks, animal parks, water parks and cable railway. It operates Madrid’s largest zoo and the huge L’Oceanografic aquarium in Valencia. In May 1999, it became the first Spanish leisure company to be listed.