Travers Smith LLP and French law firm De Pardieu Brocas Maffei have advised Looping Group on its acquisition of 100% of West Midland Safari Park Limited, which operates West Midland Safari Park (WMSP).
WMSP, opened in 1973, is located near Birmingham and is one of the leading safari park attractions in the UK as well as being a family favourite across the region. The park features a four mile safari drive-through as well as a theme park and other attractions. WMSP welcomed around 700,000 visitors in 2018, with revenues of c. £17m.
This is Looping Group's second acquisition in the UK. It is its fourth purchase since Ergon Capital Partners III became its majority investor, following the acquisition of German leisure park Fort Fun (April 2017), Zoo de la Flèche in France (November 2017) and Portuguese aquapark Amarante (December 2017). The Looping Group's management team and Bpifrance, a French government-backed bank, sit alongside Ergon as investors.
Looping Group now owns a total of 15 parks across France, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal, with a potential of 4.3 million visitors per year and revenues of over EUR 100m.
Laurent Bruloy, CEO of Looping, commented: “We are very pleased to welcome a great management team and staff who will be key to developing the park into an even more exciting family destination, with our support and new feature investments. We want to keep the strong local anchorage of WMSP with its local communities and will continue the important role of WMSP towards animal conservation in and ex situ”.
Wolfgang de Limburg, managing partner of Ergon, said: "Ergon is enthusiastic about this fourth strategic add-on acquisition by Looping which will reinforce its exposure to the wildlife segment". He added: "We look forward to acquiring additional sites to further reinforce Looping’s position as a Pan-European leader in the regional amusement parks market".
The Travers Smith team was led by Corporate Partner William Howard, together with Corporate Associate Alexander Cohen-Santi and Corporate Trainee Chris Roebuck. Tax advice was provided by Partners Jess Kemp and Russell Warren. Commercial advice was provided by Commercial Senior Associate Sonny Mallet.
De Pardieu Brocas Maffei's team was led by Corporate Partner Cédric Chanas and Corporate Associates Rodrigue Tchouale and Jeanne Rochmann. Finance advice was provided by Finance Partner Sébastien Boullier de Branche and Finance Associate Alexis Faou. Tax advice was provided by Tax Partner Nadine Gelli and Tax Counsel Jérôme Mas.
Safariworld Holdings Limited, the seller, was advised by Corporate Partner Jane Thomas from Fieldfisher.