Vardon to pay £17.7m for holiday park firm

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The Independent Online
Vardon, the fast-expanding leisure group, is checking into the holiday park business through an agreed £17.7m take-over of Parkdean Leisure, which has five camps in Scotland and three in England.

Vardon runs bingo clubs and visitor attractions that include the London Dungeon and Sea Life Centres.

Shares in Parkdean soared from 139p to 172p yesterday. Vardon is offering 13 of its own shares, which eased 5p to 132p, for every 10 Parkdean.

Parkdean was originally owned by Beazer, best known as a housebuilding company, before being bought out by management for £6.9m in 1989 and then floated on the stock market in 1993.

Vardon did consider acquiring Parkdean before it was floated, and had always intended to go into the holiday business when it was turned into a leisure company in early 1992 through the purchase of the London and York Dungeons.

Results showing solid growth in profits were also released by both Parkdean and Vardon. Profits before tax for 1994 at Vardon advanced from £5.13m to £7.4m, while Parkdean recorded a rise from £811,000 to £1.56m for its financial year to November.

Vardon is lifting its dividend total from 1.1p to 1.5p, while Parkdean's payout is 4.75p.

Three of the main benefits of the deal are that Parkdean will have easier access to expansion funds, cross-marketing, with some of the holiday sites being near Sea Life Centres, and an increase in buying power.