Blackstone to buy Center Parcs Europe real estate

The Blackstone Group, US manager of the world’s largest buyout fund, is in talks to acquire seven Center Parcs Europe properties.

Blackstone is attempting to buy a European portfolio of Center Parcs properties, including two sites in Belgium, four in the Netherlands and one in Germany, for approximately €630 million ($802 million), following its acquisition of the UK operating business of Center Parcs in March.

Center Parcs Holland: one of six European sites Blackstone’s real estate arm is attempting to buy

However, if successful, Blackstone will make its investment through its real estate arm and the sites will operated by the management of Pierre & Vacances, a French property and tourism group. The sites are owned by a consortium of unnamed private investors.
Scottish & Newcastle sold the Center Parcs Europe business in 2001. In the same transaction, Deutsche Bank acquired the UK business before selling it on to Royal Bank of Scotland and Sun Capital, which floated the company in December 2003.
In March, Blackstone paid £265 million (€383 million) in a take private of Center Parcs, which operates four holiday sites in the UK. At the beginning of May, Blackstone agreed an £825 million deal to buy its property assets, shortly followed by the company’s delisting from the London Stock Exchange.
Blackstone’s recent attempts to expand the UK business have been less successful. Earlier this month, Center Parcs UK’s attempts to build a fifth site in Warren Wood, Bedfordshire, was refused by a local council committee.
Blackstone already has a strong presence in the leisure sector. The firm owns Legoland and Merlin Entertainments, which operates Belgium’s Earth Explorer and the UK’s Sea Life Centre, in Europe as well as a 50 percent stake in Universal Studios Escape in the US.