Center Parcs appoints bankers to work on a £2.5bn flotation plan


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The Independent Online

The holiday resorts group Center Parcs looks set to return to the London Stock Exchange after hiring bankers to work on a potential £2.5bn flotation.  

The company, owned by the private equity giant Blackstone, owns five forest retreats in the UK where holidaymakers take part in activities ranging from horse riding to spa days. It was originally listed on London’s junior AIM market in 2003, before being taken private three years later.

According to reports, Blackstone has now appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley to act as global co-ordinators on a possible listing, having rejected a joint £2bn takeover bid from BC Partners and the Canada Pension Plan last year.

Barclays and Deutsche Bank are also believed to have been chosen to work on a twin track process, which means it could also be sold to another private equity firm or sovereign wealth fund. 

Another company also looking at a stock market float is challenger bank Aldermore, which was  was forced to pull its planned listing last October because of volatile markets.

“It was always our intention to come back to market,” the chief executive, Phillip Monks, said yesterday.

But he would not comment on whether he would try to squeeze the flotation in before the general election. “I can’t comment on timing but we have produced a stonking set of results today,” the Aldermore boss added.

Mr Monks also said that he had “never spoken” to TSB, which was reported to have looked at but walked away from a £600m takeover bid.

He said: “Our owners [the US private equity firm AnaCap] are not trying to find a trade sale.”

Analysts expect Aldermore to be brought to market with a valuation of £600m to £650m, down from the maximum £880m it looked for last year.

Pre-tax profits at the bank, which does not have any branches, more than doubled to £56m in 2014 while total loans increased by 42 per cent to £4.8bn. Lending to small and medium-sized businesses rose by 32 per cent to £2.2bn, while home loans rose 53 per cent to £2.6bn.

Savers’ deposits rose 29 per cent to £4.5bn. Its net interest margin, the difference between the rate at which a bank lends and what it pays to savers, expanded by 40 basis points to 3.4 per cent.

Aldermore was launched by Mr Monks, a banking veteran with previous experience at Barclays, in 2009. It specialises in lending to small businesses, as well as offering savings products and home loans. The pulled float last October cost it £6m, the bank revealed yesterday.