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Catalonia Unveils Tourism Complex Backed by Caixa, Banuelos

Catalonia’s regional government unveiled plans for a $6 billion entertainment and tourism complex backed by the La Caixa banking group and property developer Enrique Banuelos.

The 1.5 million square-meter (4.92 million square feet) complex with 12 hotels, dubbed “Barcelona World” will be built near Tarragona on land adjacent to the Port Aventura theme park, said a Catalan regional government official, who asked not to be named in line with its policy, in a phone interview. The project based around six different complexes inspired by countries including the U.S., China, Brazil and Russia, will generate 20,000 jobs, the official said.

La Caixa and Veremonte Participacoes SA, a Brazilian firm led by Banuelos, are among the backers of the project, said the official, confirming details given at a news conference in Barcelona today. Banuelos, a developer from Valencia, Spain, saw his Astroc Mediterraneo SA company surge tenfold in its 2006 initial public offering before it shriveled in value in a boom to bust that symbolized Spain’s property crash.

A bid by Barcelona to lure Las Vegas Sands Corp. to build a casino and entertainment complex in the city expired in August, Catalan President Artur Mas said in an interview with Catalunya Radio yesterday. Madrid and Barcelona had been competing to lure the investment by LVS.

La Caixa’s support for the venture is the form of providing the land and Veremonte will have the option to buy it in two years, said an official at La Caixa, who asked not to be named in line with company policy.

La Caixa’s industrial holding company owns 50 percent of Port Aventura. The group’s CaixaBank SA unit is Spain’s fourth-biggest lender.

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