Gowling WLG’s corporate, finance and tax team has advised the existing shareholders of long-standing client Forest Holidays on a further management buy-out, led by Phoenix Equity Partners and supported by existing lead investor and Gowling WLG client Lloyds Development Capital.

The acquisition sees Phoenix join existing shareholders including long-term Forest Holidays partner the Forestry Commission. The group operates cabin sites on the Public Forest Estate. The mid-market private equity firm also joins existing shareholder LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group (committed to investing £1.2bn in UK businesses over the next three years), with whom Gowling WLG have an established and long-standing relationship, including advising on their investment in Forest Holidays in 2012.

Following the completion of the transaction for an undisclosed value, the Forestry Commission, LDC and the management team will each retain minority stakes in the company which owns and operates nearly 600 eco-sensitive cabins and treehouses on nine sites across Britain.

International law firm Gowling WLG has worked closely with Forest Holidays for a number of years, advising on a wide range of corporate, banking and property related matters. This most recent deal, led by corporate, M&A & capital markets partner Chris Towle, and assisted by associate Charlotte Pitt, senior associate Stephen Bowman, and trainee solicitor Eliza Summerfield, is the most significant in the client’s history.

The corporate, finance and tax team was also supported on the transaction by Gowling WLG real estate director Joe Morris, banking and finance director Navin Prabhakar and associate Richard Crawley and by tax senior associate Tom Rank.

The deal will help accelerate the development of new and existing eco-friendly holiday locations, continuing the growth of Forest Holidays, with plans in place to open five new sites over the next five years (starting with the development of new sites in Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons).

Gowling WLG’s 100-strong corporate, finance and tax team specialises in delivering high value and complex private equity transactions, mergers and acquisitions and other corporate matters.