The sale of Four Seasons, Britain’s biggest care homes operator, is to get under way early next year as the crisis-hit company struggles under a £525 million debt mountain.
Four Seasons, which is effectively controlled by US hedge fund H/2 Capital Partners, has hired BDO and Pinsent Mason to oversee the sale process.
Chairman Martin Healy said: “This is a positive step towards restructuring the group’s finances and providing the business with a sound financial structure that meets its long-term requirements.”
The firm – still nominally owned by Guy Hands’ private equity vehicle Terra Firma – also said it has secured another “standstill” agreement with H/2 on its debt repayments.
As its principal creditor, the American hedge fund, run by Spencer Haber, now holds sway over the firm’s assets and controls the group.
“We are pleased that a constructive relationship with the group’s major creditor, H/2 Capital, has enabled us to agree a standstill and deferral agreement that provides us with the appropriate time to launch and conduct an orderly sales process,” Mr Healy added.
The sale is expected to be completed by spring and the firm said it will have no impact on services.
Since taking effective control of Four Seasons, H/2 has swept aside the company’s senior management, installing Baroness Margaret Ford and Mark Ordan on the board of directors.
The sale process comes amid worries over Four Seasons’ financial performance and debt pile, which it has been attempting to restructure.
It has been stung by a cut in local authority fees, rising costs and the introduction of the national living wage, and the group has continuously warned over its long-term stability.
H/2 has previously said it stands ready to take control of the care homes group with Baroness Ford, former chairman of rival Barchester, lined up to become chairman.
Four Seasons houses 17,000 elderly residents across 343 homes.
Terra Firma bought Four Seasons for £825 million in 2012 and has been forced to stomach a £450 million writedown on its investment.