Palamon sells leisure parks

StarParks, a European theme park operator owned by London-based growth investor Palamon Capital Partners, has sold six of its leisure parks but will retain its name, management team and a remaining facility in Germany

StarParks Group, a Palamon Capital Partners portfolio company, has sold six of its seven European leisure parks for an undisclosed sum.
Compagnie des Alpes (CDA), a European leisure park and ski resort operator, acquired five of the parks, located in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Walibi Lorraine, located near Metz, France, was sold to a private entrepreneur. StarParks will retain ownership of the remaining park, Movie Park Germany. Prior to the disposal, the group reported over 4.8 million visitors in 2005 and revenues of €112 million.
Slaughter & May, Bredin Prat, Nauta Dutilh and Hengeler Mueller acted as legal advisers to Palamon on the transaction.
Palamon acquired the European division of Six Flags, a US-based theme park operator, for €155 million ($199 million) in April 2004 and renamed the business StarParks Group.
During its period of ownership, Palamon said that it appointed a new management team, rebranded a number of the parks under their original Walibi name and carried out a €135 million refinancing in January 2006, underwritten by Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.
Fabio Giuseppetti, partner at Palamon Capital Partners, said in a statement that the investment had generated a 2.4x return for the firm to date and that there was further potential remaining in the Movie Park Germany asset.
Palamon said that it intends to maintain its presence in the European leisure sector by retaining the StarParks brand, the group’s senior management team and Movie Park Germany. The firm said that the German park, located near Dusseldorf and the Dutch border, has capacity for at least two million customers a year and that the asset would be strengthened through investment in movie-related attractions and entertainment.
In separate news, another Palamon portfolio company, wealth management business JS&P, announced that it has completed a £37 million acquisition of the UK operations of rival independent financial advisor Towry Law Group from Henderson Group. According to JS&P, the newly combined group will have over £1.2 billion of funds under management and an annual revenue in excess of £50 million. Palamon invested in JS&P in October 2003.
Based in London, Palamon Capital Partners has an investment team of twelve, including nine partners, and currently has almost €1 billion of equity under management. Last December, the firm appointed former Lloyd’s of London chief exec Ron Sandler to its board of advisors.