Center Parcs operator unveils Chinese resort deal

PARIS (Reuters) - Center Parcs owner Pierre & Vacances PVAC.PA has struck a long-term partnership deal with developer Beijing Capital Land to build holiday sites at destinations including Shanghai and Beijing, the French resort operator said on Thursday.

The agreement covers development of Center Parcs-inspired sites in France as well as China, Pierre & Vacances said in a statement, designed “to meet rising demand for local tourism for residents in major Chinese cities”.

Shares in the company had risen earlier on Thursday to close 4.7 percent higher after Chief Executive Gerard Bremond told French daily Les Echos that he was discussing a Chinese deal, without identifying the partner.

The company had also announced late on Wednesday that it halved its net loss in its 2013-2014 fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Pierre & Vacances did not disclose financial terms or say when it hoped to finalise the non-binding agreement with Beijing Capital Land, part of a conglomerate controlled by the Chinese capital’s municipal government.

Package holidays and resort tourism have been hurt by the weak European economy, but investors see rebound potential in booming Chinese demand for convenient vacations.

The deal aims to harness “growth in the Chinese middle classes and the policy initiated by the Chinese government to favour the development of domestic tourism”, Bremond said in the company statement.

Pierre & Vacances announced the move as larger rival Club Mediterranee CMIP.PA remains at the centre of France's longest-ever takeover battle, pitting agreed Chinese bidder Fosun 0656.HK against Italian tycoon Andrea Bonomi.

Reporting by Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier and Laurence Frost; Writing by Natalie Huet, Editing by dominique Vidalon