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Short break resort firm Center Parcs sold for £2.4bn


Exciting: Martin Dalby

Exciting: Martin Dalby

Exciting: Martin Dalby

Short break holiday resort company Center Parcs has been sold to a Canadian investment firm in a £2.4bn deal, which includes its future site in the Republic.

The company is building a new destination in Ballymahon, Co Longford, which is set to open in 2019.

When speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in April, chief executive Martin Dalby said the firm did not rule out opening in Northern Ireland in the future.

Center Parcs UK - which is separate from Center Parcs Europe - has 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.

It is being sold by Blackstone, the US private equity firm that bought the operating and property businesses behind the resorts for a reported £1.1bn in 2006. The transaction is due to be completed 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. Occupancy levels at the destination company, which started in Holland in 1967, have averaged around 97% over the last five years.

Currently all five of its site are based in England.

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."

Mr Dalby said: "This announcement marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Center Parcs."