Inclusive Capital eyes £1.5bn takeover move for housebuilder Countryside

·2-min read

Inclusive Capital Partners (In-Cap) has said it is considering a bid for housebuilder Countryside after two previous approaches for the London-listed firm were rejected.

The investor, which is one of Countryside’s biggest shareholders with a 9.2% stake, said it wants to engage with the company over a potential 295p-per-share offer for the shares it does not already own.

The move is expected to value the business at almost £1.5 billion.

Countryside said it had already rejected a bid worth 295p, made two weeks ago, as it “materially undervalued the company and its prospects”.

It had also rejected the earlier, smaller bid.

Shares in Countryside have tumbled by more than half over the past year after it warned over profits and announced the departure of its chief executive earlier this year.

Last week, the Brentwood-based business swung to a £181.5 million pre-tax loss for the half-year to March, from a £85.4 million profit a year earlier.

The housebuilder and urban regeneration firm said it saw completions fall by almost a quarter for the period.

In-Cap said its possible offer represents a 31.4% premium on Countryside’s shares at the end of trading on Friday.

The suitor said it believes Countryside will be best positioned for a turnaround in performance as a private company.

Jeffrey Ubben, the founder and managing partner of In-Cap, said: “In-Cap was founded to support businesses which generate positive impact on the environment and society.

“We believe Countryside is meeting a critical societal need and, as a holder of approximately 9% of the issued share capital of Countryside, In-Cap believes Countryside is best positioned to serve this role and to succeed as a private company under ownership of investors with a long-term investment approach.

“In contrast, the board of directors of Countryside has presided over the flawed acquisition of Westleigh in 2018, a dilutive equity financing in 2020, and the appointment of a chief executive officer with little to no prior public company executive experience that oversaw overly ambitious expansion into new geographies and investment into excess manufacturing capacity that is now generating losses.

“For the reasons set out above, we believe our proposed offer represents a highly attractive premium for Countryside shareholders.”

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