French group in Center Parcs talks

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The French leisure group Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs, confirmed last night that it has made a bid for the Center Parcs holiday villages, the Scottish & Newcastle division. The French company refused to disclose the value of the bid, but a deal could value the business at about £700m.

The French leisure group Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs, confirmed last night that it has made a bid for the Center Parcs holiday villages, the Scottish & Newcastle division. The French company refused to disclose the value of the bid, but a deal could value the business at about £700m.

The news follows reports that S&N, selling Center Parcs to concentrate on its brewing and leisure business, was on the brink of announcing exclusive talks with the French company, whose bid is supported by DB Capital Partners, the private equity arm of Deutsche Bank.

Pierre & Vacances, one of Europe's largest holiday rental companies, announced plans to expand in February after it bought Gran Dorado, a Dutch company that is similar to Center Parcs, for £60.4m.

The French company's offer follows intense speculation about who would emerge as the preferred bidder for S&N's 13 European holiday villages, with London-based London & Regional Properties also named among possible bidders.

However, S&N is thought to have had difficulty in raising the value of bids and may have fallen well short of the £820m book value of the business.

S&N offered no commentyesterday, but the shares closed up 6p to 479p on the expectation that a deal is imminent.

"Everyone has accepted they will not get the highest price for it, but it still makes sense to sell off Center Parcs and concentrate on the brewing and pubs arm," said an analyst.

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