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Pinewood-owner Aermont among suitors for £850m Village Hotels | Business News

The major backer of Pinewood Studios is among the suitors vying to buy Village Hotels, one of Britain’s biggest mid-market hotel chains.

Sky News understands Aermont, which specialises in real estate-backed investments, submitted an offer last week for Village Hotels, which is owned by KSL Capital Partners.

City sources said KSL was seeking offers worth in the region of £850m or more.

A number of other parties are also understood to have tabled bids ahead of a deadline last week.

Blackstone, the giant private equity firm, is considering making an offer but has yet to do so, according to insiders.

The auction is being handled by bankers at Morgan Stanley.

It comes months after attempts to sell Center Parcs UK were called off, while a mooted sale of Travelodge has so far failed to result in a deal.

Village Hotels comprises a portfolio of more than 30 properties from Aberdeen to Bournemouth, with rooms available at budget prices.

Founded in 1995 as Village Urban Resorts, the hotels feature pub-style restaurants and gyms.

KSL was reported to have paid £485m for the business when it bought it in 2014 from De Vere Group.

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The Denver, Colorado-based buyout firm has also owned other UK hotel chains including Hotel du Vin and Malmaison.

Aermont and Blackstone declined to comment.

Saga sets post-Easter deadline for cruise operation suitors | Business News

Saga has set a deadline next month for proposals to release capital from its ocean cruises operation.

Sky News understands that the London-listed insurance and travel group is working with Lazard, the investment bank, on potential partnership arrangements for the cruise business.

Prospective buyers have been asked to submit indicative offers in April, according to insiders.

The structure of a deal has still to be determined but Saga and its advisers are exploring a number of options for the division, which operates the Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery.

Saga has been labouring under the weight of a large debt pile for years.

Last autumn it tapped its chairman, Roger de Haan, for £35m, adding to the substantial sum of money it owes him.

The evaluation of new corporate activity by Saga’s board comes ahead of a £150m bond repayment which is due in May but which is understood to be repayable from money lent by Mr de Haan.

In its interim results announced last September, Saga’s balance sheet was saddled with net debt of more than £650m.

The company’s shares have fallen by nearly a fifth during the last 12 months, leaving it with a market capitalisation of just over £200m.

Mr de Haan, the company’s former chief executive, was parachuted back in to lead a turnaround in the summer of 2020, investing £100m as part of a broader capital-raising.

That came after it spurned a takeover bid from private equity investors.

At the start of last year, it unveiled a global website called Saga Exceptional, aimed at providing advice and services to over-50s consumers.

However, it has been forced to contend with a change of leadership following the resignation last year of chief executive Euan Sutherland.

He has been replaced by finance chief Mike Hazell.

A large part of the company’s current travails relate to conditions in the motor insurance market, which it said had been impacting its ability to generate cash and reduce debt.

Saga had also been in talks to sell its underwriting business to Open, an Australian insurer, but failed to finalise a transaction.

Mr de Haan, the son of the company’s founder, had already lent Saga £50m before extending that to an £85m facility earlier in the autumn.

Shares in Saga closed on Thursday at 119.6p.

A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment.

Buyout firm Advent joins list of suitors for $10bn sandwich chain Subway | Business News

A former owner of the high street retailers DFS and HMV has joined the suitors vying to take control of Subway, the global fast food chain.

Sky News understands that Advent International is one of several private equity firms which have progressed through to the second stage of an auction of Subway.

Advent submitted an indicative offer for the US-based company, which could fetch a valuation of between $8bn (£6.6bn) and $10bn (£8.3bn), earlier this month.

It joined rival bidders including Goldman Sachs’ asset management arm, Bain Capital, TDR Capital – the joint owner of Asda – and TPG.

TSG Consumer Partners, which counts Brewdog among its investments, has also been monitoring the situation.

Family-owned chain Subway said it was exploring a sale last month, paving the way for a change of ownership for the first time since its maiden store was opened in Connecticut in 1965 by Peter Buck, a nuclear physicist.

Since then, it has grown into one of the world’s largest quick-service restaurant chains across 37,000 – mainly franchised – outlets in more than 100 countries.

In the UK, Subway trades from more than 2,000 sites, selling made-to-order sandwiches, wraps and salads.

It is bigger in Britain by number of outlets than rivals such as Greggs and McDonald’s.

In a statement last month, the company confirmed that its shareholders were “exploring a possible sale of the company”.

“There is no indication of timing or assurance that a sale will occur.

“The management team remains committed to the future and will continue to execute against its multi-year transformation journey, which includes a focus on menu innovation, modernization of restaurants and improvements to its overall guest experience.

“The company recently announced another record-setting year, ending 2022 exceeding global sales projections and achieving eight consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales growth.”

Bankers at JP Morgan are overseeing the sale process.

At a valuation of $10bn, a takeover would be too large for some of the initial bidders to execute alone, meaning that some may seek to team up with each other or with investors in their private equity funds.

A spokesman for Advent declined to comment.