Port Aventura | A visit to Port Aventura, by Martí Saballs

Thursday evening, they met at PortAventura Congress Center a thousand people to celebrate Foundation’s annual benefit gala. These galas are organized to generate funds which, in the case of this amusement park, go to help different organizations that help children and adults with different disabilities, also for their integration into work. During the big dinner, participants pay one ticket per seat and then participate freely in the draw, after purchasing the tickets, of all kinds of trinkets, trips and tickets. throughout dinner 115,000 euros were raised in the middle of a thunderous spectacle – with decibels through the roof – and musical images that deafened more than one. Around the more than a hundred tables, you could see the whole Tarragona affair and part of the politician. The mayors of Vilaseca (Pierre Segura) and Salou (Pierre Granados), where the park is located, continue to negotiate the expansion and distribution of new facilities in the new Hard Rock, next to the Port. With them, the mayors of Reus, Carles Pellicerwhich will not come again in May, and Cambrils, Olivier Klein, to whom I confessed, saddened, that I did not know its population. Everything will be fine.

Port Aventura, 260 million euros in turnover and 2,000 employees, ended up being a success story, who fought against all odds. Little is remembered of the turbulent origins of Port Aventura. What should have been a project developed by the American multinational Anheuser Busch in 1989 ends with this group leaving by legs tired of politics and afraid of the difficulties and obstacles to move forward. He tried to save the frame with the support from the Generalitat Pujolista the considered golden financier of this Catalonia: Xavier de la Rose, a successful and corrupting man from Kuwait in Spain, for whose economic crimes he was sentenced to prison. Once the cake that the project became discovered, it was La Caixa -as almost always in this Catalonia of the mid-90s- which took over the reins of the park, with other shareholders such as the electricity company Fecsa/Endesa , until you go to undo positions. Caixa/Criteria sold its last package in 2012 to the Italian investment group Investindustrial, controlled by Carlo Umberto Bonomi. In Spain, in addition to now controlling 50.1% of Port Aventura, this investment group participates in Natra, a chocolate and cocoa producer, and Northium, a Galician educational company. A whole cocktail.

49.9% of Port Aventura belongs to one of the most historic venture capital funds on Wall Street: KKR, which entered in December 2013 when Investindustrial wanted to stop holding 100%. Under these three acronyms hide three first and last names that have entered the history of the most daring (or wild) financial capitalism in the United States: Henry Kravis, Jerome Kohlberg there George Roberts. Films like “Wall Street”, with Michael Douglasincluding “Female Weapons”, with Melanie Griffith there Sigourney Weaverwonderfully reflect this world that exploded in the grossest way in the financial crisis of 2008, but had stronger survivors in KKR.

That Port Aventura, one of Spain’s great tourist brands, is in the hands of a Italian investment group, specialist in moving buy and sell portfolios of companies around the world, and the legacy of the quintessential financial sharks that once existed on the face of planet Earth, may raise more than one eyebrow. Everything, however, seems more than connected. Carlo Bonomi, who likes to keep a low profile when he shows up at Foundation dinners -he was absent on Thursday-, privately expresses his enthusiasm for the park’s long-term project. As president, he maintains a representative of the Barcelona bourgeoisie with a historic family name: Arturo Mas Sardawhich is supported by the Italian CEO Serge Feder. The two strong executives are the Spaniards Fernando Aldecoa -general manager- y David Garcia -Entrepreneur-. The last great signing of Port Aventura as a director was the Bilbao Alex Cruzformer Executive Chairman of British Airways and pioneer of the private airline sector in Spain with Clickair and Vueling, which merged in 2008.

Port Aventura wants In 2022, exceed the visitor record obtained in 2019, 5.2 million, which after the forgettable 2020 rose to 3.2 million in 2021. In the middle of an area where fifty kilometers away is the largest petrochemical complex in Spain, nuclear power plants, the reserve nature of the Ebro Delta, the wines of Priorat and Montsant, the Costa Dorada and the Roman heritage of Tarragona, this park has established itself as an axis of commercial attraction that wants to continue to grow. Over time, ownership has changed and may continue to change; but, no one discusses the assets. Now that visitors are once again filling the site, the question is, given the surface limitations, what will be the new strategy in Spain and internationally.

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