Simmons instructed on sell-off of Center Parcs

Simmons & Simmons has been handed the mandate by stockbroker Collins Stewart to recreate the innovative structure it built for the acquisition of Northumbrian Water on the proposed deal to buy Center Parcs UK.

A group of fund managers led by Collins Stewart has approached private equity firm MidOcean Partners, the owner of Center Parcs, with a view to buying the UK holiday company for around £300m.

Simmons previously advised Aquavit, a consortium of Collins Stewart, Deutsche Bank and utility finance specialist Ecofin, on the £2.2bn acquisition of Northumbrian Water.

That deal used an innovative structure, which saw 20 institutions taking a 75 per cent stake in the company, leaving Northumbrian’s parent Suez with 25 per cent. The bulk was then listed on AIM as a prelude to moving it to the full list of the London Stock Exchange.

Collins Stewart has been searching for ways to repeat this success and has turned to Simmons for help. The fund manager is likely to be rivalled by a number of private equity firms, but it is hoped that the AIM structure will enable it to triumph.

Linklaters is advising Center Parcs’ owner MidOcean. The magic circle firm advised on the formation of the private equity house at the beginning of the year.

Linklaters followed that in August, when it advised on the e270m (£184.7m) sale of MidOcean’s 50 per cent stake in Center Parcs Europe, the Continental European arm of the business, to its co-owner, Pierre & Vacances.