Singapore state fund to lodge £4bn bid for Center Parcs

A Singaporean sovereign wealth fund has joined the list of suitors vying to take control of Center Parcs, the UK’s biggest chain of upmarket holiday resorts.

Sky News has learnt that the city state’s Government Investment Corporation (GIC) is in talks to table a joint bid for Center Parcs with KSL Capital Partners, the private equity investor.

GIC is one of Asia’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, and expressed an interest in Center Parcs in 2015 when it teamed up with CVC Capital Partners to make an offer.

CVC is also bidding in the latest auction, with indicative offers due to be tabled next week.

Center Parcs trades from six sites in the UK and Ireland, and has enjoyed buoyant trading since the lockdowns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A number of infrastructure funds, including French-based Antin, have also been exploring whether to make offers for the company.

Center Parcs has been owned by Brookfield Property Partners, the Canadian property giant, since 2015.

It has hired Bank of America, Barclays and Eastdil Secured to manage the sale.

The resorts chain boasts one of the British leisure industry’s best-known brands, drawing millions of visitors annually to its five UK sites and the latest addition to its portfolio, at Longford Forest in Ireland.

Its locations offer a mixture of adventure and leisure activities for families, such as watersports and horse riding, as well as spa packages.

The company opened its first site in the UK in 1987 at Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.

Center Parcs has been a public company in the past, floating on London’s junior AIM market in 2003 before moving to a main market listing two years later.

It was then taken over by Blackstone, the private equity firm, in 2006, before being sold to Brookfield in 2015 in a deal reported to have been worth £2.4bn.

Blackstone is also said to be considering whether to bid to buy the company back.

Center Parcs’ UK and Ireland operations are owned separately to the European business that also trades under the brand.

The brand dates back to 1968, when the first village opened in the Netherlands.

Run by Martin Dalby, its chief executive for more than 20 years, Center Parcs’ shareholders have received hundreds of millions of pounds in dividends since Brookfield bought the business.

KSL declined to comment.