Apollo to sell Great Wolf Resorts for north of $1 billion

Water parks are not all child's play. 

In a deal first announced last night by Reuters, private equity firm Centerbridge Partners is set to acquire Great Wolf Resorts, the largest U.S. operator of indoor water parks, for $1.35 billion, including debt, from Apollo Global Management. 

Centerbridge won the right to buy Great Wolf, which has 13 locations in its portfolio, via auction, by agreeing to pay the equivalent of more than 10 times the company's annual EBITDA, sources told Reuters.

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As Bloomberg writes, secondary buyouts, in which private equity firms sell companies to each other, rose 15 percent in 2014, according to Bain & Co. 

Centerbridge, founded by Mark Gallogly and Jeffrey Aronson, is “fully committed to expanding the company into new markets,” senior managing director William Rahm said in the statement

Great Wolf Resorts, based in Madison, Wisc., is currently owned by private equity firm Apollo, which acquired Great Wolf back in 2012 after a heated competition for it with KSL Capital Partners. The final acquisition price was $740 million, including debt.

It subsequently took the company private. Reuters writes that Apollo stands to make around 2.5 times its investment on the deal.

An initial public offering registration for Great Wolf had been filed confidentially with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Reuters writes. This provided an option for the company to go public if the offers did not meet Apollo's valuation expectations.

One of Great Wolf's latest deals was acquiring the Holiday Inn in Futchburg, Mass., in 2013, along with the Coco Key Water Resort and convention center, and converting it into a water park. 

More recently, Great Wolf is building a resort in Grove Garden, Calif., which, per its website, will open in early 2016 with a reported 600 rooms.

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