Blackstone counts on caravans

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The Independent Online

The private equity giant Blackstone and the property group M3 Capital Partners have emerged as leading contenders for Park Holidays UK, the caravan parks group.

Second-round bids are due on 8 March and the current owner, Graphite Capital, a mid-market private equity group, is believed to be looking for around £220m. Four parties are thought to remain in the auction, which is being run by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The bidders are said to be a mix of private equity, pension fund and property players. Blackstone is thought to be interested so that it can then buy rivals to Park Holidays and create an industry champion.

M3 hit the headlines last year when it bought Swayfields, a motorway service station owner and developer, for £240m.

Graphite backed a £130m management buy-in of Park Holidays in 2006. The company has 25 caravan parks on the south coast from Devon to Suffolk.