Buyers circle Saga, Westminster Health

Numerous bidders are reportedly competing to acquire Saga, the UK services provider for the over 50s, while 3i prepares to sell Westminster Health Care, the UK care provider.

A number of private equity consortia are preparing initial bids for Saga Group, the UK provider of services to the over 50s market in an auction that is expected to top £1 billion (€1.5 billion; $1.8 billion), according to reports.

London-based HgCapital, Candover Jand JP Morgan Partners are bidding against Boston-based Advent International who are teaming up with Montagu Private Equity, the reports say. UK-based Cinven and Apax Partners have also been linked to the deal, while solo bids are expected from US buyout giants Blackstone and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Saga, a Folkestone, UK-headquartered company, which is also looking at the option of going public, provides a range of services including holidays, insurance and financial products to people aged 50 and over, which according to the company is the UK’s fastest-growing age group and controls more than 85 percent of private wealth.

In other news, pan-European private equity firm 3i is reportedly preparing the sale of Westminster Health Care, having appointed NM Rothschild to run the process. 3i acquired Westminster in May 2002 when it invested £70 million in the £276 million MBO from a consortium comprising Goldman Sachs and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe.

Westminster owns 88 care homes in the UK and provides a wide range of health care services including senior living, rehabilitation services, specialist units, intermediate care services and respite care, predominantly aimed at the older section of the population. The sale is expected to fetch up to £450 million.

Bidders who missed out on last month’s £775 million auction of nursing home operator Four Seasons Health Care including Blackstone and UK-headquartered Electra Partners Europe and Legal & General Ventures may be interested alongside a number of other potential bidders.

The mature market in the UK has aroused significant interest among private equity firms recently. Earlier this week, London-based private equity fund Langholm Capital Partners invested £24.5 million in a new UK provider of financial services called Just Retirement.

Today, UK mid-market private equity house Gresham has also invested in Minivator, a Midlands-based manufacturer of stairlifts for the elderly and disabled. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. According to reports, the stairlift business is worth approximately £200 million per year globally with 45 percent of sales in the UK.