Official: Vilamoura bought by American fund

It’s finally official – Vilamoura has been taken over by American private equity firm Lone Star Funds.

The US fund has acquired Garvecat, the company responsible for developing the Vilamoura resort, in a deal that has been dubbed “the largest of Portugal’s tourism sector in the last 10 years”.

The news was confirmed on Thursday (April 2) by real estate consultants CBRE, who provided advisory services, but the amount for which the resort changed hands is being kept firmly under wraps.

In fact, details of what is in store for the world-class resort are still scarce.

In a short statement, Lone Star said it plans to “strengthen and revive” the resort through a long-term investment plan.

The agreement will see Lusort, the company that manages Vilamoura marina and most of the surrounding resort, changing hands from Catalan savings bank Catalunyacaixa to Lone Star Funds.

Francisco Sottomayor, head of development of CBRE Portugal, admitted that reaching an agreement was difficult due to the “large scale of the deal”.

“It was an extremely complex deal, not only due to its scale, but to the type of asset it is: a group of companies with a very diverse range of assets, including many plots of lands, the concession of the best Portuguese marina and a significant number of already-constructed buildings,” he said.

As CBRE points out, Vilamoura is the oldest resort in Portugal and one of the most popular tourist destinations of Southern Europe. Boasting 2,000 hectares, the resort also features a marina with 825 berths as well as five internationally-recognised golf courses.

There is still 700,000sqm of land to use for further construction, including the controversial project ‘Cidade Lacustre’ which includes the artificial flooding of thousands of hectares of agricultural land to create a “lake city”.

Lone Star background
Lone Star was founded in 1995. Since its establishment, it has organised 14 funds with “aggregate capital commitments totalling over $54 billion”.

On its website the firm says that it seeks investment opportunities in “developed markets that have suffered an economic and/or banking crisis, resulting in a dislocation in asset pricing and value opportunities”.

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]