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Giant Pension Fund In Advanced Talks To Buy Butlin's For £300M

Butlin's could be sold for £300M to USS by Bourne Leisure.

The UK’s largest private pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme is closing in on a deal to buy holiday park operator Butlin's, as it continues to buy into alternative real estate asset classes.

USS is in advanced talks over the purchase with the holiday park operator's parent company, Blackstone-owned Bourne Leisure Group, for a deal worth in the region of £300M, Sky News reported.

Butlin’s had attracted a number of suitors recently including Queensgate Investments; Asda’s parent company, TDR Capital; and Terra Firma Capital Partners. However, the rival bidders are understood to have dropped out of the race in the past few weeks.

It had been mooted last month that Terra Firma was interested in paying up to £600M for the resorts group as part of a drive to take a slice of the UK domestic holiday market.

Butlin's operates three resorts across the UK in Minehead, Skegness and Bognor Regis. Bourne Leisure was bought by U.S. private equity giant Blackstone in January 2021 for a reported £3B in what was the largest hospitality and leisure deal globally last year. 

However, the investment giant is looking to separate the Butlin’s sites from the rest of the Bourne Leisure portfolio.

Bourne Leisure currently employs more than 16,000 people and attracts 4.5 million visitors to its 56 sites across the UK each year.

It has three major brands, Butlin’s; Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels. Haven is the largest UK caravan operator with 38 holiday parks and 2.5 million visitors a year.

USS has looked outside the traditional ways of investing in real estate when it comes to deals in the last few years. It bought a £400M stake in a portfolio of petrol stations in 2020 and has also backed a property lending platform.