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Reports: European Investors Launch Takeover Bid for Kennywood Parent

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
April 30, 2019
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under Creative Commons.)

The Spanish parent company of Kennywood is being targeted for takeover by a group of European investors.

According to published reports, a group calling itself Piolin BidCo owns 44 percent of Parques Reunidos and is attempting to purchase the remaining 56 percent for almost $16 per share.

The details were revealed in an filing with financial regulators in Spain.

Based in Madrid, Parques Reunidos acquired Kennywood in West Mifflin, Sandcastle in West Homestead, Idlewild Park near Ligonier and other related companies in 2008. The takeover ended more than 100 years of ownership by the Henninger and McSwigan families.

The Piolin takeover bid was reported Friday by Skift, a blog for travel industry investors, and the Reuters news agency.

"Piolin" is Spanish for "Tweety," like the Warner Brothers cartoon bird. According to reports, the Piolin consortium is made up of EQT Partners of Sweden, which owns 50 percent; Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, a holding company in Belgium; and Corporacion Financiera Alba, a Spanish holding company.

EQT Partners is not related to Pittsburgh-based natural gas producer EQT Corp. The Swedish firm's other investments include consumer goods, transportation, healthcare products and real estate.

The blog Private Equity News reports that it has become one of the largest investment firms in Europe, with more than $68 billion (U.S) of capital distributed across 29 funds.

Besides its parks in the United States and Spain, Parques Reunidos owns more than 60 theme parks and amusement parks around the world, including in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway and Vietnam.

In Pennsylvania, Parques Reunidos also owns Dutch Wonderland near Lancaster. The company, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, reported that more than 20 million people visited its attractions in 2018.

When it purchased Kennywood Entertainment, Parques Reunidos was controlled by private investors, but it began selling its stock to the public in 2016 with a 525 million Euro ($462 million) offering. Its shares are traded on stock exchanges in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia.

Piolin is proposing to pay $703 million (U.S.) to purchase the outstanding shares of Parques Reunidos, according to Skift. The entire offer values Parques Reunidos at around $1.3 billion.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Parques Reunidos is considering the offer and signed a confidentiality agreement with Piolin on March 21. The takeover would be subject to regulatory approval.

Located in West Mifflin, Kennywood opens on weekends beginning May 4 and daily beginning May 23. The park is currently completing construction of "Steelers Country," a football-themed steel roller coaster and the first new roller coaster at Kennywood since 2010.

Earlier this month, Parques Reunidos reported a $14.5 million (U.S.) profit on global operations for the 2018 fiscal year, a 14.5 percent increase over the previous year. The company had reported a $51.3 million loss for the first quarter of the fiscal year.

This story was written from press releases and wire reports. You may contact Tube City Almanac at tubecitytiger@gmail.com.

Originally published April 30, 2019.

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