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Pontins administrators holding out for right price

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 November 2010 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 December 2010

General view of the sign at Pontins site in Pakefield, Suffolk
4th February 2009

Picture: James Bass
Copy: 
For: EDP News
Eastern Daily Press © 2009  (01603) 772434

General view of the sign at Pontins site in Pakefield, Suffolk 4th February 2009 Picture: James Bass Copy: For: EDP News Eastern Daily Press © 2009 (01603) 772434

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

Administrators trying to find a buyer for Pontins last night said they were not in a rush to sell despite receiving 55 expressions of interest.

KPMG stepped in to run the business last month after the unexpected announcement that the holiday company was in trouble.

Spokesman Sorrelle Cooper said there had already been a huge amount of interest in Pontin’s which runs five sites including one at Pakefield, near Lowestoft.

But she insisted the administrators would not hurry through a deal. She said: “This is not a fire sale. We want to take our time and get the right price. Lots of expressions of interest are very welcome but we want them to be at the right price.”

Among the interested parties is thought to be Indian millionaire Bhanu Choudhrie.

He and his family’s investment vehicle C&C Alpha Group could team up with the Dubai Royal Family to buy the business for up to £15m, it is claimed - potentially securing 850 jobs in the Lowestoft area in the process.

Mr Choudhrie told a Sunday newspaper he wanted to keep the existing management team in place and expand the business. They were set to have discussions with KPMG this week.

The Indian entrepreneur said he had looked at the business six months ago when Pontin’s chief executive Ian Smith was searching for potential investors.

C&C Alpha Group has a vast portfolio of investments, ranging from award-winning spa hotels in India and Mauritius to a portfolio of hospitals and care homes in the UK.

Last night the administrators said it would be unfair to comment on any sale negotiations.

But they are optimistic of finding a buyer and have pledged to keep running all five sites – Pakefield, Brean Sands in Somerset, Camber Sands in Sussex, Prestatyn Sands in Wales and Southport on Merseyside.

In order to keep that promise and allow workers at KPMG to concentrate on securing a sale, the administrators this week appointed Bridge Leisure to run the holiday parks for them.

“There will be KPMG people there but Bridge Leisure have a really good reputation for managing leisure companies. It means we can really focus our efforts on the sale of the business and takes us off the day to day running,” said the administrators’ spokesman.

The sale process is likely to take two or three months.

Pontin’s catered for 5,000 guests at the weekend. None of the 850 staff has been made redundant.

The company’s slide into administration has come as a surprise because more people have been taking holidays in the UK rather than abroad because of the weak pound. The company was bought by Ocean Parks for £46m in 2008, who closed a site in Blackpool last year.


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