Blackstone announced this morning that it was poised to expand its Center Parcs leisure park empire by buying seven parks in continental Europe

Confirming a story that was revealed in Property Week (news, 07.07.06), the US private equity group revealed that it had reached a formal sale-and-purchase agreement with Pierre & Vacances, the owner of the seven resorts in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

The purchase price was not revealed but is believed to be €630m (£436m). Blackstone said the deal should complete before the end of July.

The properties will continue to be let on the same terms to Center Parcs Europe, a subsidiary of Pierre & Vacances, which will continue to operate the entire 16-strong Center Parcs business in continental Europe.

Center Parcs Europe is a separate entity from Center Parcs UK, which Blackstone acquired in a separate transaction earlier this year.

In the UK, Blackstone owns both the property and the business of Center Parcs. In two separate deals, it paid the Royal Bank of Scotland and leisure entrepreneur Hugh Osmond £825m for the four parks and acquired the operating business for £265m.