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U sells Port Aventura stake

Pacts for logo to continue theme park association

GIJON, Spain — NBC-owned Universal Studios has exited Spanish theme park Port Aventura, selling its 37% stake to Catalan savings bank La Caixa.

Reported price of the deal is e25 million ($30 million).

Following the agreement, La Caixa now owns 80% of Universal Mediterranea, the holding company that owns Port Aventura, other amusement park interests and a bevy of hotels in Spain. U has inked a licensing deal under which its logo will continue to be associated with Port Aventura.

While yielding cash to Universal, deal is just the latest move in Spain’s volatile and cash-strapped theme park sector.

The Paramount Parks-managed Terra Mitica suspended payments last month. Port Aventura has a better cash flow, posting losses of just $5.7 million in 2002.

Attendance at Port Aventura has not met initial — and highly optimistic — expectations. However, La Caixa, Spain’s wealthiest savings bank, says it is in for the long haul.