Charterhouse wins battle for Saga in £1.35bn deal

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The Independent Online

Charterhouse has beaten off competition from another private equity player to buy Saga, the company that provides services to the over-50s, for £1.35bn.

Charterhouse has beaten off competition from another private equity player to buy Saga, the company that provides services to the over-50s, for £1.35bn.

The deal, which backs the existing management, means that Saga's 3,300 staff will receive £1,000 for each year of service. The company has 37 employees who have been at the group for more than 20 years and 260 who have more than 10 years' service.

The average payout to staff is estimated at some £5,000, meaning that the decision, announced yesterday, to make the payment to employees will cost £16.5m. There are also 100 former employees who took retirement from the group who will also receive the windfall payments. In addition, staff will get an unspecified number of shares through a company share-ownership plan.

But the money paid to employees will make only a small dent in the £1.35bn that now goes to Saga's owners, Roger De Haan and his family. Mr De Haan, 55, has 70 per cent of the equity in the group, while various family trusts have a further 30 per cent. The deal crystallises the worth of the company, founded by Mr De Haan's father - the late Sidney - in 1951 as a travel business, and makes the family among the top 20 richest in the country.

Andrew Goodsell, Saga's chief executive, said the sale agreement was signed at 6am yesterday morning after a marathon negotiating session that lasted all weekend. Saga has been following a "twin track" approach, examining the possibility of both a stock market flotation and a sale since Roger De Haan, the chairman, announced in November last year that he wanted to sell up and cut all ties to the company.

Mr Goodsell said the Saga management went into the weekend genuinely not knowing whether the company would be listed or, if sold, to which party. As recently as Sunday, many were tipping the other private equity bidder still in the race, a consortium led by Cinven and Candover. He said that while price was a "key element", Charterhouse was "very empathetic to the brand, very supportive of the strategy".

Saga's interests include a radio station and mail order catalogue. It has a customer database of 7.6 million people.

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