Mid Europa buys Poland’s largest mountain tour operator

The CEE-focused firm has acquired PKL for €51m, in a bid to capitalise on the country’s expanding leisure industry.

Mid Europa Partners has bought PKL, Poland’s oldest mountain tourism operator, for PLN215 million (€51 million, $66 million). 

The transaction, expected to close during the third quarter, will see the firm acquire the company from PKP, the state-owned rail operator.  It remains subject to customary regulation approval. 

Based in Poland’s Southern Tatra Mountains, PKL provides access to a number of popular tourism attractions in the country. It also operates ski lifts and funiculars in four other locations outside of the area, which centres around the town of Zakopane. 

The acquisition will be made through PKG, a holding created by the region’s communities to ensure PKL’s future strategy remains in line with the broader interests of local constituencies. 

The future growth of PKL will play a very important role for the local businesses which rely on tourism

Janusz Majcher

“The future growth of PKL will play a very important role for the local businesses which rely on tourism. PKL’s assets represent major tourist attractions in the communities in which they are located. Together they constitute an excellent platform for integration and expansion of the regional tourism offering,” said Janusz Majcher, mayor of Zakopane, in a statement. 

For Mid Europa, the move exemplifies the growing attractiveness of industries linked to customers’ discretionary spending, which has dramatically increased over the past decade on the back of an expanding, wealthier middle-class. “We have identified the leisure and tourism sector as a strong growth opportunity and believe that PKL, with its established presence in the most popular Polish mountain locations, represents an attractive entry route and consolidation platform in this market,” said Zbigniew Rekusz, a partner at Mid Europa. 

The firm, which historically has had a very strong presence in telecoms, has grown its footprint in other customer-related industries over the last 10 years, with a focus on healthcare, retail, transportation and logistics. Its most recent acquisitions have included Alpha Medical, a laboratory diagnostics provider bought from Penta Investments, Walmark AS, a dietary supplement maker, and Fryda, which also supplies diagnostic services to laboratories. 

Mid Europa is investing from Fund III, which closed on €1.53 billion in 2007. It is also raising Fund IV, launched with a target of €1 billion earlier this year.