Sky News has learnt that Mr Hands’ Terra Firma Capital Partners is in exclusive negotiations to offload Brighterkind to Patron Capital Partners.
The portfolio of homes has a series of management and service arrangements with Four Seasons Health Care, the UK’s second-biggest care home operator, which crashed into administration in April, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
A separate process to find a new owner for Four Seasons’ 250 residential and nursing care sites is being overseen by Alvarez & Marsal, the company’s administrator.
Bids are said to have been sought from interested parties by the end of the month.
The terms of the prospective deal between Terra Firma and Patron – including price – and the status of the talks on Brighterkind were unclear on Friday morning.
One source suggested that the discussions had faltered, while another insisted that the period of exclusivity lasted until early next month.
The portfolio of homes being sold is not connected to Four Seasons’ insolvency, although, confusingly, a number of sites included in the administration process are also branded Brighterkind.
The 24 homes being sold by Mr Hands’ firm were acquired about five years ago, and sparked a legal battle that culminated last year in Terra Firma winning a ruling that it retained ownership of the sites.
The standalone Brighterkind portfolio, which is chaired by the former J Sainsbury chief executive Justin King, is profitable, and largely consists of more lucrative self-funded residents.
Terra Firma and Patron, which has backed companies in the UK such as Power League, the 5-a-side football venue operator, both declined to comment on their talks.
If the talks between Terra Firma and Four Seasons do fall apart, people close to the Brighterkind process expect its 24 homes to be sold on a piecemeal basis.
A successful sale of the business would curtail the scale of Terra Firma’s losses on Four Seasons, which it bought in an £825m deal in 2012.
The company’s £500m-plus debt pile has been the subject of restructuring negotiations for years, with most of the group’s debt now in the hands of H/2 Capital Partners, a US-based hedge fund.
H/2 is seen as the likeliest owner of the business after having pumped hundreds of millions of pounds into its bonds, although it is unclear whether it will make an offer by itself.