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Latham & Watkins Advises MBK Partners in the Acquisition of Ocean Park Assets in China

January 10, 2022
Private equity firm acquires four theme parks in China in complex carve out transaction.

MBK Partners, the largest Northeast Asia-focused private equity fund, has acquired four ocean theme parks in China from Hong Kong-listed hospitality group Haichang Ocean Park Holdings Ltd. for a total consideration of CNY6.05 billion (approximately US$0.95 billion). The four ocean parks operate in four of China's first tier cities, Wuhan, Chengdu, Tianjin, and Qingdao.

The transaction constituted a “very substantial disposal” by the Haichang group under the Hong Kong Listing Rules. A major carve out deal in China’s theme park industry in recent years, it involved brand licenses, debt financing and Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG), and merger clearance elements.

MBK Partners focuses on investments in North Asia and is one of the largest private equity funds in Asia with over US$25.6 billion in capital under management. The fund’s investment in Haichang Ocean Park underscores it's confidence over the potential growth in China's leisure and hospitality industry. As the first ever theme park operator listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, Haichang Ocean Park Holdings Co., Ltd. is an established theme park and ancillary commercial property developer and operator in China. Upon completion of the transaction, the Haichang group will continue to own and operate the remaining six ocean theme parks in China.

Latham & Watkins advised MBK Partners in the transaction. The deal team was led by Hong Kong corporate partner Frank Sun with Beijing associate Haibo (Jason) Zhao, and Hong Kong associates Bonnie Tse, Haifan (Mark) Hu, and Yujie Zhang. Additional regulatory and strategic advice was provided by Hong Kong partners Simon Cooke and Terris Tang and London partner Catherine McBride; and advice on Hong Kong Listing Rules was provided by Hong Kong counsel See Wah (Mandy) Wong. Hong Kong partner Andrew Bishop, and associate Ruonan Duan advised on the debt financing and Hong Kong partner Kieran Donovan advised on the brand licenses issues, and London partner Paul Davies with counsel Michael Green advised on the ESG elements of the deal.