Pearson plc, the international media group, is to sell its 40.5% stake in Port Aventura S.A., the Spanish theme park, for 10.25 billion pesetas (£40 million). Pearson is selling a 37% stake in Port Aventura to Universal Studios, part of the Seagram group, and a further 3.5% stake to Caixa, Spain's leading savings bank and already a shareholder in Port Aventura.
As a result of the disposal, Tussauds Espana SA, part of The Tussauds Group, owned by Pearson, will no longer manage the park's operations. This will lead to a 4.5 billion pesetas (£18million) payment by Port Aventura S.A. to compensate for the ending of the management agreement.
Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, said:
"This disposal enables the Tussauds management team to focus its efforts on international operations where it has full management control and can capitalise on the value of the global Tussauds franchise."
The agreements are conditional on the approval of the Seagram board and the transaction is expected to close before the end of June.
Pearson paid a total of £37.5m to acquire a 40.5% stake in the Port Aventura theme park, which is near Barcelona in Spain. The other shareholders are La Caixa (with a 33.5% stake), the Spanish utility company, FECSA (6%) and the American brewer and theme park owner, Anheuser Busch (20%.) Tussauds Espana SA, part of the Tussauds Group, has been responsible for the management and operations of the park, which has attracted more than 8 million visitors since it opened in May 1995.
The Tussauds Group is the UK's leading visitor attraction business. The world famous Madame Tussaud's and Alton Towers, the UK's largest theme park, are the UK's two top-ranked commercial visitor attractions. The group also owns and operates Chessington World of Adventures, the south east's largest theme park, the London Planetarium, Rock Circus, in central London, Warwick Castle and Scenerama in Amsterdam. Further Madame Tussaud's exhibitions are planned for New York and Las Vegas. The group has recently signed a conditional agreement to buy Thorpe Park in Surrey.
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