London-based private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners is the favourite to buy cabin break business Forest Holidays, City A.M. understands, in a deal worth around £100m.
Fellow private equity firm LDC, which currently owns Forest Holidays along with the Forestry Commission, put the business up for sale towards the end of the summer.
Phoenix was understood to be competing in the final stages with Caledonia Investments, the firm backed by the wealthy Cayzer family. However, sources told City A.M. that the sellers' attention turned to Phoenix after Caledonia lowered its offer price.
Other private equity houses, including Drake & Morgan owner Bowmark and Evans Cycles owner ECI, as well as Brookfield-backed Center Parcs, are understood to be out of the running.
Forest Holidays would not be a new foray into the leisure sector for Phoenix. The firm already owns Bridge Leisure, an operator of caravan holiday parks which it is helping to grow through acquisitions.
The Forestry Commission will retain an interest in Forest Holidays, which has almost 600 cabins across the UK, following the sale.