Ferrari to open theme park in Europe

Ferrari will open its first theme park in Europe as the luxury sports car manufacturer looks to petrolheads in Formula 1 simulators to swell earnings at its fast-growing brand licensing business.

Ferrari Land, which will open in 2016, is being built in the PortAventura resort in Barcelona, jointly owned by private equity firms Investindustrial and KKR, under licence from the storied prancing horse brand.

"Ferrari is unique and this will make the park a truly unique destination," said Andrea Bonomi, senior partner at Investindustrial, an Italian group. "Ferrari has a broad appeal . . . motorsports have support from all levels in society, young people, to grown-ups, to everyone."

Investindustrial, which also owns close to 40 per cent of carmaker Aston Martin and has a history of automotive investments, said it had chosen to build the park in Spain rather than Ferrari's home country of Italy because of the already-existing PortAventura resort and its visitor numbers.

The announcement comes as PortAventura looks to shore up its visitor numbers. Other theme parks and leisure businesses in Spain are struggling for growth against a backdrop of high unemployment and tepid economic growth.

Last year Ferrari began a three-year plan to reduce its car production in order to increase the exclusivity of its vehicles, while increasing its profit margins.

The carmaker's branding and licensing division, which oversees spin-off products such as Ferrari clothing, handbags and perfume, as well as theme parks, brought in €54m in operating profit last year and has been hived off into a separate company.

Ferrari, which already has a branded theme park in Abu Dhabi, is also exploring a third attraction in Asia, according to a person with knowledge of the study.

Andrea Perrone, managing director of Ferrari's branding division, said the company had received "numerous requests" for new Ferrari theme parks.

"We will continue to further look at the launch of additional Ferrari theme parks outside of Europe with no rush, while continuing to maximise the value of our prestigious brand without diluting it," Mr Perrone said.

Barcelona's Ferrari Land will cost more than €100m, funded by internal cash generation, and include Europe's fastest vertical rollercoaster, driving simulators, and a 250-room hotel. The carmaker will be paid both fixed and variable licensing fees, Mr Bonomi said.

Investindustrial took a stake in PortAventura in 2009 and has since invested more than €125m in the park, Europe's third-largest resort by visitors with around 4m per year.

Ferrari Land is expected to bring in an additional 500,000 visitors per year when fully open, Mr Bonomi said.

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