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Goldman and Oaktree buy stake in PE advisory firm

The private equity firms have paid an undisclosed amount for a minority stake in Global Leisure Partners, an advisor and co-investor on private equity deals in the gaming, lodging and leisure industries.

The specialist private equity advisory firm responsible for sourcing the industry’s largest transactions to date in the leisure sector is selling a passive minority stake to some of its private equity clients.

London-based Global Leisure Partners, which originated landmark leisure deals including the $30 billion take-private of Harrah’s Entertainment by TPG and Apollo Management, has agreed to sell a piece of itself to Goldman Sachs and Oaktree Capital Management.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though GLP’s co-founder and chief executive, Mark Harms, said in a statement the investment will help his firm expand globally.

It will also enhance GLP’s co-investment abilities, said Christopher Gagnon, president of the firm’s investment affiliate, Global Leisure Capital Partners.

GLP currently holds minority stakes in several portfolio companies on which it advised private equity buyers. These include Fitness First, a UK gym chain purchased in 2005 for £835 million by BC Partners; Italian gaming company Sisal, which was purchased last year for roughly €900 million by Apax Partners and Permira; and Cannery Casino Resorts, a Las Vegas gaming property partially owned by Oaktree.

GLP sources, structures and executes private equity and mezzanine deals in the gaming, lodging and leisure sectors. In addition to the Harrah’s deal, the firm said it sourced the largest leisure deals in both Asia and Europe: GLP is advising Permira on its $840 million purchase of a stake in Galaxy, a casino license holder in Macau; and in 2005, GLP advised Permira on the recapitalisation of UK casino and bingo operator Gala, and on the subsequent £2.2 billion add-on acquisition of Coral Eurobet. GLP, along with Candover, Cinven and Permira, co-invested in the latter deal.

GLP recently advised Permira portfolio company Principal Hotels on its £358 million buyout of Hayley Conference Centers.