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Major international attractions operators continue to improve revenues despite ongoing economic challenges


whereas there was a small decline in attend- ance for Disney but also a compensating rise in spend.


FURTHER ACQUISITIONS In 2001 the top four consolidators (Merlin, Parques, Aspro and Grevin) owned 56 sites between them, which has since grown to nearly 200. In 2010 Merlin and Parques made more acquisitions (see Table 2), while Grevin disposed of seven non-core sites. Aspro focused on their existing operations. Prices were slightly lower than the long-run


average (7-8x EBITDA) for those transactions for which information is available. The objec- tive of the H.I.G. Group in acquiring the CdA sites is to accelerate the development of the parks by combining an organic and acquisi- tion strategy within the destination leisure market. They intend to invest a further €20m (US$29.2m, £17.7m) in addition to the acquisi- tion price of €29m (US$42.4m, £25.7m). Time will tell whether they can grow this group to become a signifi cant player in Europe. At the group level, Merlin brought in an additional investor (CVC) in June 2010 who acquired a 28 per cent stake in a deal valuing the company at £2.25bn (US$3.7bn, €2.54bn) (9.4x 2009 EBITDA), but Candover pulled their auction of Parques Reunidos last October as the bid prices were below the level required. The three reported unsuccessful bidders were all large private equity fi rms (Apollo Manage-


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One of the biggest new ventures is Disney in Shanghai


ment/Providence Equity and a combination of Carlyle and Advent). Cedar Fair made some progress in debt restructuring but still face challenges regarding their investors in spite of the improving trading environment.


MAJOR EXPANSION AND ACQUISITION There are many exciting new developments in the pipeline. Three of the biggest new


ventures are: construction of a new Disney park in Shanghai, China (although that isn't opening until 2014); construction of a Warner Brothers park at Leavesden, UK, in 2012; and the relaunch of Cypress Gardens as a Legoland site, marking Merlin’s entry into Florida in October 2011. In addition, we expect Merlin, Parques and now HIG to continue looking for good-quality


Attractions Handbook 2011-2012 35


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