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Center Parcs acquired by Canadian property firm Brookfield

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UK leisure resort chain Center Parcs has been bought by Canadian property giant Brookfield for an undisclosed sum.

Center Parcs – which was owned by US-based private equity group Blackstone – has been the subject of intense speculation over the past year, with several firms linked to a takeover bid.

It had previously been reported that Blackstone had hired several investment banks to lay the foundations for a £2.5bn (US$3.8bn, €3.4bn) London listing. Blackstone, is also understood to have recently rejected a joint £2bn (US$3.1bn, €2.5bn) bid from BC Partners and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for the chain of leisure resorts.

Blackstone chair Gerry Murphy said of the sale to Brookfield: “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 runs five holiday villages in the UK and reported pre-tax earnings of £147m (US$224bn, €204bn) last year. This was bolstered by a 99 per cent occupancy rate for the first three months of business at its new Woburn Forest resort, which launched in June 2014. The £250m (US$383m, €337m) complex features 625 lodges, a 75-bedroom hotel, Center Parcs’ largest Subtropical Swimming Paradise and an Aqua Sana spa. Center Parcs is also understood to be developing a new resort near Dublin, with an anticipated opening date of 2019.

Brookfield, which specialises in property, renewable power and private equity, is amassing an enviable portfolio in the UK, having recently teamed with Qatar Investment Authority to buy London’s Canary Wharf.

“To date, Brookfield Property Group’s investment activity in the UK has focused primarily on the office and logistics market; however, our global portfolio has always encompassed a broader mix of asset types including property deriving its returns from leisure activities,” said Brookfield Property Group CEO Ric Clark.

“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.”

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UK leisure resort chain Center Parcs has been bought by Canadian property giant Brookfield for an undisclosed sum.
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The most recent Center Parcs resort – Woburn Forest – launched in June 2014