AN entrepreneur backed by the State of Qatar has entered exclusive talks to acquire Britain's second-largest chain of nursing homes, which is up for sale for £ 1.4billion.
Paul Taylor is the latest individual to enter detailed talks to acquire the Four Seasons chain. But there is no certainty that a deal will complete.
The sale process, being handled by Dresdner Kleinwort, has already gone on for six months and during that period two other parties who entered exclusive negotiations have withdrawn from the auction.
Taylor, who was at one time head of structured finance at NatWest (now owned by Royal Bank of Scotland), has kept a low profile in the business world but he is highly regarded. In recent years he has worked behind the scenes for the Tchenguiz brothers, Robert and Vincent.
He has assembled a blue-chip board for his new vehicle, which is called Three Delta. Sir Peter Middleton, former chairman of Barclays, is believed to have been appointed non-executive chairman. Other board members include Sir Christopher Howes, former chief executive of the Crown Estate, and Nick Land, former chairman of Ernst & Young.
Three Delta has already made one other acquisition. This was the £150m purchase of Senad, the special educational needs group.
Four Seasons, which operates 335 nursing homes and 17,500 beds, is owned by Gennany's Allianz Capital Partners.
The sale of the estate is the latest in a round of dealmaking in which chains have changed hands regularly. The owners have made money from both the property and improving operating margins.
Four Seasons' is headed by Tony Heywood, a serial care home entrepreneur who has already banked millions of pounds from running and selling healthcare companies.
Allianz bought Four Seasons two years ago and has since made several other acquisitions. If a deal is completed it could bank a £400m profit.