Center Parcs holiday sites sold to Canadian property giant Brookfield in £2.4bn deal


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The Independent Online

Center Parcs was today sold to the Canadian property-investment giant Brookfield for around £2.4bn after a bidding scramble for the holiday-parks operator.

The company, which has five parks across the UK, was sold by private-equity giant Blackstone after  nine years of ownership. Brookfield will add Center Parcs to its portfolio of UK investments which include its part ownership of Canary Wharf.

Bankers spent months looking at options for the business, culminating in a formal statement in March that Blackstone was considering a potential float or sale. Serious talks with Brookfield only began in earnest over the past few weeks.

Center Parcs’s long-term chief executive, Martin Dalby, said: “It’s a great day. We have some brilliant new owners. They’re really good guys and are supportive of our plans to open our next site in Ireland - a really good thing to get our teeth into.”

The Irish site is expected to cost about €200m (£144m).

Mr Dalby and his management team are thought to have made several million pounds from the deal, although he declined to comment on this.

There has been speculation that Center Parcs could expand into North America after Ireland.

Mr Dalby said: “It is too early to say on that. Over the next 100 days we’ll be sitting down and talking about the long-term future.”

Brookfield's chief executive Ric Clark said: “Although these resorts are already producing steady streams of cash flow supported by nearly full occupancy year-round, we see compelling opportunities to grow the business and enhance our investment returns.”

Other potential bidders had included CVC and KSL Capital Partners — two private-equity giants. They had teamed up with Singapore’s sovereign-wealth fund and Canadian pension fund CPP respectively.

Mr Dalby joined Center Parcs as finance director in 1995, became chief executive in 2000 and has run it under the ownership of Scottish & Newcastle, Deutsche Bank’s private-equity arm, a floated stock-market entity and Blackstone.