FIRST
Choice and Holidaybreak are believed to be on the acquisition trail – with both
tipped as possible buyers for either Saga or Mark Warner.

Saga Group
chairman Roger De Haan has announced his retirement and has appointed UBS
Investment Bank to advise on the future of the group, sparking a rush of
interest in the City.

The
direct-sell grey market giant last year made a pre-tax profit of £48 million,
and has a possible price tag of at least £600 million. Analysts put most of the
value on its insurance business. Options could be a sale or flotation, or an
acquisition by a venture capital firm.

Analysts
tipped First Choice as a possible buyer, although product director Tim
Williamson declined to comment. Holidaybreak group chief executive Richard
Atkinson said: “We would be interested in looking at any opportunity like
this.”

Upmarket
all-inclusive operator Mark Warner is also thought to be up for grabs, although
its managing director David Hopkins insisted a sale “is not on the agenda”.

The
privately-owned company is seen as a good fit for First Choice’s Sunsail
operation, which has attempted to expand its land-based operation. Mark Warner
would achieve that in one fell swoop, said observers.

First
Choice and Holidaybreak are both in the rare position of having had decent
years – something the majority of their rivals have been unable

to say.