Center Parcs takeover speculation intensifies as new chairman is named

Center Parcs takeover speculation intensifies as new chairman is named

The £2.5 billion auction of Center Parcs has taken a new twist even as the holiday resort operator progresses plans for a stock market flotation.

US-based hotel operator and real estate investor Starwood Capital is reported to have teamed up with CVC Capital Partners, the biggest shareholder in Formula One motor racing, to mount a takeover of the UK resorts company.

The combined CVC-Starwood offer is competing against rival bids including one from Brookfield, a Canadian property group, and another involving KSL Capital, the owner of the Malmaison hotel chain.

Sky News reported sources as saying that CVC's participation is being handled by its Strategic Opportunities Fund. One of the major backers of that fund is the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore.

The bidders for Center Parcs are competing against a prospective flotation of the business, the case for which has been boosted by the reaction of stock markets to last week's general election outcome.

Private equity giant Blackstone has owned Center Parcs for nine years and is considering whether to float the company or sell it to a suitor.

Center Parcs yesterday confirmed the appointment of a former Austrian Airlines chief executive, Vagn Sorensen, as its new chairman.

Sorensen has been chairman of SSP, owner of the Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza chains, since 2006.

He is to replace Martin Robinson as chairman of the holiday parks operator from June.


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