KKR to buy Dutch holiday parks group Roompot in €1bn deal

KKR has agreed to buy Dutch holiday parks company Roompot, in a €1bn deal that marks the latest in a spree of acquisitions by the US private equity group during the pandemic.

The buyout firm will acquire Roompot, which runs campsites and holiday homes in Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France and Spain, from Paris-based private equity firm PAI Partners, the companies said.

The deal comes even as Roompot has been hit hard by the lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed since the coronavirus pandemic began. Revenues were down about 50 per cent in March and 70 per cent in April compared with the same time last year, according to Moody’s, which this week lowered its credit outlook on the company to negative.

Moody’s said Roompot was vulnerable to the fallout from a possible second wave of coronavirus infections and a prolonged recession, though it had benefited from a “surge in demand” from domestic customers in recent weeks.

“There has been a trend towards staycation [and] this crisis is accelerating that because of the limitations on international travel and people being worried about airports and flights,” said Daan Knottenbelt, partner and head of the Benelux region at KKR, which has $207bn in assets under management.

Holiday parks have an “incredible degree of resilience through recessionary times because people trade down in terms of their discretionary spending”, he said.

The Dutch company generated €82m in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in 2019, according to Moody’s, indicating a deal price of more than 12 times earnings despite the uncertain outlook.

Roompot had planned to launch a formal sale process in March, but called it off when the pandemic hit so executives could focus on responding to the crisis with new safety and social-distancing measures.

However, KKR approached PAI Partners with a “positive view on the asset” and was “ready to do a deal in a very [quick] manner”, said Gaëlle d’Engremont, a partner at PAI, which has owned Roompot since 2016.

The sale had been expected to fetch about €1bn last autumn, before the pandemic roiled markets, according to local news reports at the time.

“We didn’t accept a discount because of the crisis, because we believe going forward the business will not be affected,” said Ms d’Engremont.

KKR has been the most active private equity firm worldwide since the crisis began, investing in deals worth at least $16.9bn since the beginning of March, according to data from Refinitiv. It is investing from a fund that specialises in longer-term deals where it can own a business for 10 years or more.

Roompot’s sites are open this summer, including playgrounds, swimming pools and even facial treatments, according to its website, and it has introduced disinfectant stations and limits on the numbers of people using facilities.