Bondcare, one of the UK's largest privately held care-home operators and worth at least £200m, is going on sale within the next month.
Bondcare, which is owned by a group of families, runs 48 homes with more than 2,300 beds. It is the latest care-home group to go under the hammer as investors' appetite for the sector increases.
Three Delta, the Qatar-backed private equity fund recently set up by Paul Taylor, the former right-hand man to property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz, paid £1.4bn for the country's second-largest nursing home company, Four Seasons Healthcare, earlier this month.
Mr Taylor said he was interested in buying more care-home operators, but did not mention Bondcare by name. "The consolidation over the next six months will be very quick, and we're going to be a player in that. There are two or three sizeable mature businesses that we will pursue in due course."
In less than six months, Three Delta, which is a joint venture between Mr Taylor and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), has become the single largest owner of care homes in the UK. Before buying Four Seasons, Three Delta splashed out another £1.5bn in total on a care-home property portfolio and on Senad, an education business for children with special needs. Mr Taylor said he planned to make £250m available for Four Seasons, which is led by chief executive Tony Heywood, to buy smaller companies.
Sources also expect the private equity group Sovereign Capital to auction two of its care-home companies, Choice and Tracscare, within the next two to three months. Dominic Dalli of Sovereign said they were not up for sale now, but his firm would seek to exit at some point.