* CEO says overall climate more favourable for stake sale
* H1 EBITDA up 1.8 pct
* Expects annual revenue growth at ski resorts above 3.5 pct
(Recasts with CEO comments on stake sale at news conference)
By Dominique Vidalon, Camille Raynaud and Wout Vergauwen
May 23 France's Compagnie des Alpes
said more favorable economic and political conditions made it
hopeful of reaching a deal this year to sell a stake in the
company to Chinese conglomerate Fosun and other
Compagnie des Alpes (CDA) operates 11 ski resorts in France
and 13 leisure parks in Europe, including Parc Asterix and the
Grevin waxworks museum in Paris. It wants to expand abroad,
notably in high-growth markets such as China, and has been
looking for partners to help this part of its strategy.
"We need partners. The deal has not been done yet. I am
convinced it will happen. I think it's time today to focus on
the interest of the company," said Chairman and Chief Executive
Dominique Marcel, after the group reported a slight increase in
first-half core earnings.
"I really hope a deal will be sealed this year as we have a
more favourable climate," he added.
Asked if he was referring to the election of French
President Emmanuel Macron as one of the elements behind the
better business climate, Marcel said: "Yes, among other things."
Previously Marcel had said that Fosun and other investors
could take a stake of "between 8 and 10 percent, possibly a
little more". He did not give new details on Tuesday.
A source close to the matter told Reuters that talks had
been put on hold ahead of the presidential election in France
and that things were now likely to start moving again.
Commenting on Fosun, which already controls French holiday
group Club Med, Marcel said: "We need groups who can bring us
their expertise...notably in entertainment and Fosun controls
The Cirque du Soleil circus."
State-owned bank Caisse des Depots (CDC), which is the main
shareholder of Compagnie des Alpes with a 40 percent stake, has
said it would stay as the reference shareholder in the company
and was "the guarantee" that would keep CDA anchored in France.
Last year, French politicians and local officials in the
French Alps had voiced concerns about French regions losing
control of ski resorts to foreign companies.
Compagnie des Alpes' first-half earnings before interest,
taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 1.8 percent
to 167.9 million euros ($188.6 million).
The group also expected annual revenue growth at its ski
resorts business to exceed 3.5 percent, and confirmed its
guidance for its EBITDA margin to be slightly above last year.
($1 = 0.8902 euros)
(Reporting by Camille Raynaud and Wout Vergauwen; Editing by
Edmund Blair and Sudip Kar-Gupta)