Alchemy turns Parkdean purchase into a reality

Private equity company Alchemy Partners has gained a controlling share of holiday park operator Parkdean Holidays.

Private equity company Alchemy Partners has gained a controlling share of holiday park operator Parkdean Holidays.

Alchemy yesterday said it had received irrevocable undertakings and non-binding letters of intent in respect of 10% of Parkdean's shares from AXA Framlington Investment Management. These give it similar commitments for 50.6% in total of the Newcastle-based company's shares.

The offer was announced on March 17 with undertakings and letters of intent for 35.2% of Parkdean's shares already in the bag.

Directors approved the 270.5p a share offer from Alchemy's bid vehicle PD Parks in a move which values the Tyneside company at up to £139.7m.

Under the deal, the existing management team, trading name and the 106 employees based at Gosforth Business Park will all be retained.

The company's new owners are expected to take Parkdean's shares off the Alternative Investment Market and provide backing for the business to continue its expansion.

Since its foundation in 1999 with just one park, Parkdean's estate has grown to encompass 20 centres at locations from Scotland to Cornwall.

Its share price has also more than doubled from debuting at 100p per share in May 2002.

Founder and chairman Graham Wilson, who is leaving the business, said the Alchemy deal was "an excellent result" for Parkdean shareholders.

Mr Wilson, who is leaving alongside non-executive directors David Stonehouse and Nick Magoolagan, will receive around £1.6m for his 600,000 shares in the company.

The offer from Alchemy, best known for its failed attempt to buy Rover, came almost five months after Parkdean first received a takeover approach from Newcastle-based property investor, Grainger Trust.

While Grainger decided not to buy the business, its initial bid brought 12 other potential purchasers out of the woodwork.

The Parkdean board and advisers Charles Stanley whittled the list down with Alchemy emerging the winners.

Alchemy will have an 80% stake in the company with the remaining 20% split between Parkdean management.

Parkdean chief executive John Waterworth will hold a 10% stake in the new business.

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