[AN] Merlin Entertainment rachète les Center Parcs

Publié le par parcattractions.fr


The Center Parcs holiday village in Thetford Forest, one of four in England.
The Center Parcs holiday village in Thetford Forest, one of four in England.
Holiday village operator Center Parcs is set to be sold to a private equity group in a deal worth £205.4m.

The Blackstone Group has made the 80p-a-share takeover bid for the firm, which operates a holiday village at Elveden Forest in Suffolk, as well as sites in Nottinghamshire, Wiltshire and Cumbria.

Blackstone, a US-based private equity firm, already has interests in East Anglia following the acquisition of Merlin Entertainments for £102.5m last year.

Merlin Entertainments operates the Sea Life Centre at Yarmouth and the Sea Life Sanctuary at Hunstanton as well as Sea Life sites across the UK and Europe.

Blackstone also owns the London Dungeon and the Legoland theme parks which it bought for £255m last year and is looking to increase its portfolio of leisure investments.

The £205.4m offer is being backed by the Center Parcs board, which said the company had "a number of material and financial operational constraints" which made accepting the deal a prudent move.

About 1.5 million visitors stayed at the four Center Parcs villages in 2005, and the company is currently seeking planning permission for a fifth site in Warren Wood, near Woburn, Bedfordshire.

Center Parcs said its prospects in the long term were good, but it faces a number of challenges, with no guarantee it would be able to gain planning permission for the fifth park.

It said the market remained challenging, with increased competition and rising energy costs hitting business.

Center Parcs also faces "significant constraints" as a result of its debt burden, which costs it £1.6m a year in interest rate repayments.

The company has been trying to negotiate a debt refinancing with its banks ahead of a loan repayment deadline of April 2009.

Each Center Parcs holiday village is about 400 acres, set in a forest environment with approximately 800 villas, apartments and lodges.

The sites are famed for their swimming areas - a transparent dome which houses pools, jacuzzis and slides - and sports facilities.

Blackstone said Center Parcs would provide a platform for further acquisitions and it would continue to invest in the existing sites, it said.

A Blackstone spokeswoman said that no agreement was in place about the make up of the Center Parcs management team. The proposals still need to be approved by Center Parcs shareholders.

The private equity group's 80p-a-share offer represents a premium of 26pc to the 63.3p average closing price of Center Parc shares over the past six months. Shares closed at 81p.

Source : The Business

Publié dans Revue de Presse Europe

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