Crest Nicholson seeks $916 million valuation: sources

LONDON Fri Feb 1, 2013 6:32am EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - British housebuilder Crest Nicholson aims to be valued at as much as 578 million pounds ($916 million) when it lists in London this month, sources said.

Crest has begun taking orders for its initial public offering (IPO) at a price range of 195-230 pence per share, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

That would give it a market capitalization of 487-578 million pounds after the listing, which will include the sale of new and existing shares.

Crest hopes to raise 56 million pounds selling new stock, while existing shareholders, including Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and Varde Partners, will sell as much as 175 million pounds worth of shares, the sources said.

That could rise to 198 million pounds if an overallotment option, whereby shareholders can sell extra stock if investor demand is high, is exercised, one of the people said, taking the maximum potential size of the IPO to 254 million pounds.

Order books on the sale, which the company said previously would include at least 35 percent of its issued share capital, were due to close on February 12.

Crest, taken private by Scottish entrepreneur Tom Hunter and mortgage lender HBOS in May 2007, is now majority owned by U.S. distressed investment fund Varde Partners after a series of deals last year.

Last month, the 50-year-old firm said it would return to the stock market to position itself for a housebuilding sector recovery five years after being taken over during a housing market crash.

Strong appetite for housebuilders in the United States following a recovery in the market and the successful flotation of Tri Pointe on Thursday, meant Crest was likely to have a broader geographic mix of investors than British peers, Cenkos Securities housebuilding analyst Kevin Cammack said.

"It is likely to be a more far-flung shareholder base than just London with interest from North America and, possibly, mainland Europe," he said.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Kylie MacLellan; Additional reporting by Tom Bill; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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