Blackstone in $1bn sale talks

Marion Dakers
PRIVATE equity group Blackstone is in talks with fund manager M&G to sell it most of the property behind its Center Parcs holiday business.

The deal could be worth more than £1bn, making it one of the biggest property deals since the recession. The proposed sale would leave Blackstone running the holiday parks it acquired in 2006.

Blackstone is reported to be in the final stages of creating a fund to hold the holiday company’s £1.4bn of UK property assets, in which M&G would then acquire a majority stake.

Blackstone is expected to retain a stake of up to 25 per cent in the fund, which is also likely to be open to other institutions.

The sale concerns the parks in Cumbria, Suffolk, Somerset and Nottingham, totalling around 1,600 acres. There are also plans to open a new site in Bedfordshire in 2013. It does include Center Parcs locations across Europe.

The company began in the Netherlands in 1968, and has grown to become an upmarket rival to Butlin’s and Pontin’s holiday villages. Center Parcs had 97 per cent occupancy rates across its UK parks last year.

M&G refused to comment on the deal, while Blackstone and Center Parcs were unavailable for comment.