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Dubai Developer Weighs Sale of Largest Indoor Theme Park

Archana Narayanan, Matthew Martin and Layan Odeh

(Bloomberg) -- The owner of the world’s largest indoor theme park in Dubai is exploring options for the business, including a possible sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari Group, known as IMG, is considering selling part or all of its IMG Worlds of Adventure theme park after struggling to restructure a 1.2 billion-dirham ($327 million) loan, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans are private. Discussions are at an early stage and the owners may decide to keep the business or consider an initial public offering at a later date, they said.

“We are not planning to sell IMG in any form, neither partial and wholly,” Chief Executive Officer Leonard Otto said in an emailed response to questions. “We are not in any discussion around the same,” he said, adding that IMG is in advanced talks with banks “on our syndicate-loan restructuring to support the business.”

The company had been working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and EFG-Hermes Holding SAE on a possible 2017 initial public offering, people with knowledge of the plans said at the time.

Visitor Numbers

Several theme parks have opened in the United Arab Emirates in recent years, including Warner Bros. and Legoland, as part of efforts to diversify the economy and attract more tourists. Since then, a prolonged period of lower oil prices and lower-than-expected visitor numbers have put pressure on operators in the region, forcing them to delay new openings.

DXB Entertainments PJSC, which raised $690 million through an initial public offering in 2016, last month said it was putting the brakes on a Six Flags theme park after it struggled to raise funding. Its shares have slumped 70 percent since listing.

IMG Worlds of Adventure, which cost about $1 billion to build, opened in 2016 and stretches across 1.5 million square feet and featuring attractions based on Marvel’s Avengers and Cartoon Network’s Powerpuff Girls.

(Updates with CEO comments in third paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Archana Narayanan in Dubai at anarayanan16@bloomberg.net;Matthew Martin in Dubai at mmartin128@bloomberg.net;Layan Odeh in Dubai at lodeh3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stefania Bianchi at sbianchi10@bloomberg.net, Claudia Maedler, Vernon Wessels, Ross Larsen.

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