Center Parcs for sale

The owner of Center Parcs UK is preparing to put the business up for sale for more than £300m.MidOcean, a private equity firm set up by former Deutsche Bank employees has appointed merchant bank Merrill Lynch to value and find a buyer for Center Parc's UK business, according to reports in a national newspaper.

The owner of Center Parcs UK is thought to be preparing to put the business up for sale for more than £300m.

MidOcean, a private equity firm set up by former Deutsche Bank employees, has appointed merchant bank Merrill Lynch to value and find a buyer for Center Parc's UK business, according to reports in a national newspaper.

Center Parcs UK attracts about 1.2 million guests a year at its four holiday villages, including Elveden Forest in Suffolk.

The business is expected to attract interest from venture capital firms such as HgCapital and Barclays Private Equity, as well as from rival holiday companies.

The company, which has about 4000 staff, also operates sites at Longleat in Wiltshire, Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, and Whinfell in the Lake District, which provide activities such as swimming, golf and cycling.

The sale will mean the third new owner for the company since Scottish & Newcastle sold Center Parcs to Deutsche Bank and Pierre & Vacances, a French leisure firm, in February 2001.

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Shortly after the acquisition, Center Parcs was split into two businesses, the larger one covering the UK and the other based in Continental Europe.

DB Capital, Deutsche Bank's private equity unit, took over the UK part of the business, which it sold as part of a bigger sale of its venture capital assets in February.

Center Parcs UK and the other assets were bought by MidOcean, a private equity firm set up by Ted Virtue and other DB Capital partners to buy the assets. Deutsche Bank owns a 20pc stake in MidOcean.

Center Parcs UK, led by chief executive Martin Dalby, suffered a huge setback last year when a fire devastated its Elveden site. The site reopened in July this year, 14 months after the fire, following a £55m revamp of the complex.