Center Parcs sold to Canadian firm for £2.4bn

Tourism - Center Parcs - Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

Britain's five Center Parcs resorts have been sold to a Canadian investment firm in a deal thought to be worth more than £2.4 billion.

The destinations, expected to welcome more than two million guests this year, have been snapped up by Brookfield, the property group that recently teamed up with the Qatar Investment Authority to take control of London's Canary Wharf.

Center Parcs UK - which is separate from Center Parcs Europe - is being sold by Blackstone, the US private equity firm that bought the operating and property businesses behind the resorts for a reported £1.1 billion in 2006.

The transaction is due to complete in July.

Brookfield chief executive Ric Clark said: "Center Parcs' villages are high-quality, popular short break destinations for friends and families, with loyal guests and outstanding service.

"Although these resorts are already producing steady streams of cash flow supported by nearly full occupancy year-round, we see compelling opportunities to grow the business and enhance our investment returns."

Brookfield's other investments include interests in shopping malls in the United States and Brazil as well as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Center Parcs, which employs around 7,500 people, offers UK family breaks including activities such as swimming, climbing and sailing.

It has sites at Sherwood Forest, Notts; Elveden Forest, Suffolk; Longleat Forest, Wiltshire; Whinfell Forest, Cumbria; and Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire.

Occupancy levels have averaged around 97% over the last five years.

Blackstone chairman Gerry Murphy said: "Having bought Center Parcs in 2006 and invested in its growth, it has been an excellent investment for us. We are sure that it will go on to even greater success under new ownership."

Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby: "This announcement marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Center Parcs."

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Center Parcs sold to Canadian firm for £2.4bn

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