Countryside open to sale offers after shareholder pressure

Countryside will listen to offers to buy its business after shareholders encouraged the board to actively seek a sale for the company.

Last week, Construction News reported that San Francisco-based investment fund Inclusive Capital Partners (In-Cap) had seen a £1.5bn bid rebuffed by the property developer.

The US hedge fund went public with a £1.47bn offer for Countryside on 30 May, according to the Financial Times, offering a premium of about 25 per cent to the closing price on 27 May.

This was rejected by the business, which “strongly advised” shareholders to take no action in relation to the approach.

However, the Brentwood-based group confirmed to the Stock Market this morning (13 June) that it would start a formal sales process after pressure from investors.

It said: The board has received feedback from a number of significant shareholders regarding the future of the company.

“A meaningful number of shareholders believe that the company would be in a better position to capitalise on the opportunities ahead as a privately-owned company or as part of a larger business and have asked the board to actively seek offers for the company.

“In light of this feedback, the board has decided to conduct an orderly process to establish whether there is a bidder prepared to offer a value that the board considers compelling relative to the long-term standalone prospects of Countryside as a listed company.”

In-Cap currently owns 45.8 million shares in Countryside, reflecting a 9.2 per cent interest in the group. Shares in Countryside have increased significantly after the recent offers to buy the business.

The Countryside board added: In the event no such compelling proposal is forthcoming, given the board’s view of the significant potential for the business as a standalone entity, then the board is committed to Countryside remaining as an independent listed company.

In January, then Countryside chief executive Iain McPherson stepped down from his role, after the company revealed its profits had dropped “below board expectations”. He had led the group for two years.

Countryside, which works on several regeneration projects, was named the preferred partner and contractor for a 2,500-unit London housing estate scheme in October 2021.

The firm decided last year that it would shut down its private-sale housebuilding to focus on its partnerships business with public-sector clients, housing associations and others.

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