Investindustrial in €95m theme park deal

Hot on the heels of proposing Italy’s largest LBO this year, Investindustrial will take a 50% stake in Barcelona’s PortAventura theme park.

Investindustrial is once again investing in roller coasters, having agreed to make a €95 million equity investment for a 50 percent stake in Southern Europe’s largest theme park, PortAventura.

The park, and its related properties and assets, is currently owned by Criteria CaixaCorp, an investment company controlled by Spanish banking group La Caixa.

Southern Europe-focused Investindustrial previously owned Italy’s Gardaland theme park and associated hotel, theatre and conference centre. It sold those assets in 2006 to Merlin Entertainment, which is owned by The Blackstone Group.

The PortAventura deal, which includes additional undisclosed financing from La Caixa, is “Spain’s largest deal in 2009 by enterprise value”, according to an Investindustrial spokesman.

PortAventura: Investindustrial's latest  private equity adventure

Expected to close by the end of the year, the transaction will split PortAventura in two companies. The company in which Investindustrial will own a 50 percent stake will include the theme park; Caribe, an aquatic park; and the hotel operations of Hotel PortAventura, Caribe Resort, Gold River and El Paso hotels. It will also include a congress centre expected to open at the end of the year.

The other company will be owned by Criteria CaixaCorp and will comprise “the commercial and residential real estate assets (excluding the theme park), the three golf courses and the Beach Club”, according to a statement.

“Through the new industrial plan, which has an estimated €80 million of investments over the next four years, the park will further strengthen its leadership in Southern Europe with a clear benefit for customers, employees and shareholders of PortAventura,” Según Gonzalo Gortázar, Criteria’s CEO, said in the statement.

Last month, Investindustrial teamed with French private equity firm Alpha to launch Italy’s largest LBO this year, a €353 million take-private of Milan-listed “architectural envelope” maker Permasteelisa.

“We’ve been pretty busy after the summer break,” said the Investindustrial spokesman.