LONDON Jan 21 British housebuilder Crest
Nicholson on Monday said it would launch an initial
public offering in a bid to return to the stock market, five
years after it was taken over during the housing crash.
The 50-year-old company said the offer would comprise new
and existing shares and that the primary proceeds from the
offer, around 50 million pounds ($79 million), would be used to
pay outstanding borrowings.
"Crest Nicholson has a long and successful history as a
public company and today we have announced our intention to
return to the stock market," Chief Executive Stephen Stone said.
"The housing market is entering a period of gradual recovery
and with our emphasis on the south of England, including London,
and the continued support for the new homes market from (the
British) government, we are well positioned to generate value
for shareholders," he said.
A source told Reuters in September that the company was
actively exploring a flotation on the London stock market and
described a 500 million pound valuation at the lower end of the
Crest Nicholson, one of Britain's biggest housebuilders, was
hit hard by the slump in the UK housing market after years of
easy credit inflated prices.
It was taken private by Scottish entrepreneur Tom Hunter and
mortgage lender HBOS in 2007 and is now majority owned by U.S.
distressed investment fund Varde Partners, after a series of
deals last year.
The company said its offer to list would also incorporate a
sale of existing shares by some institutional shareholders,
including Varde Partners and Deutsche Bank AG. It
expects the free float to be a minimum of 35 percent of the
issued share capital of Crest Nicholson.
It expects the offer to complete in February and to become
eligible for inclusion in the FTSE UK indices at the quarterly
review at either March 2013 or June 2013.
British housebuilders have so far beaten a sluggish housing
market by buying up land cheaply during the recession, building
in the south of England where house prices have stayed strong
and have also been helped by government schemes targeted at
At the end of October, the company had a short term land
bank of which over 95 percent was in the south of England, with
16,959 plots on 72 sites and an estimated gross development
value of 3.9 billion pounds.