THE SOUTH east’s largest operator of caravan parks, Park Holidays, was sold by its private equity backers yesterday to London-listed fund Caledonia Investments.
Graphite Capital, which owns London’s Hawksmoor restaurant chain, sold the company for £172m, after overseeing it for seven years following a purchase in 2006.
The deal is notable because Caledonia’s buy is being backed by £90m of bank debt provided by RBS, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Barclays and Santander. This surpasses the £88m of equity Caledonia is stumping up to fund the deal, underscoring the loosening of credit available for mid-market private equity deals in recent months. Park Holidays, which was founded in 1985, has 23 parks around the south east and is currently the UK’s fourth largest caravan park operator.
Graphite, which installed Jeff Sills as boss of the park operator, said the deal made 2.3 times its original investment, adding to a rapid pace of investment returns which has seen the total value of disposals made by the firm over the past year top £1bn.
Graphite senior partner Mike Innes said: “The resilience which the business has shown through a period of exceptional economic turmoil reflects the operational excellence instilled by (Sills) and his colleagues and the targeted investment in the parks.”