Updated: Tue, 22 Jan 2013 12:13:02 GMT | By pa.press.net

Crest plans stock market return

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson is to return to the stock market after a rollercoaster six years as a private company.


Crest Nicholson chief executive Stephen Stone highlighted the company's 'robust' balance sheet

Crest Nicholson chief executive Stephen Stone highlighted the company's 'robust' balance sheet

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson is to return to the stock market after a rollercoaster six years as a private company.

The Surrey-based firm, which is a residential developer focused on the southern half of England, was bought by HBOS and Sir Tom Hunter, the Scottish entrepreneur, in a £715 million takeover at the peak of the housing market in 2007.

It is now in the hands of American hedge fund Varde and Deutsche Bank after the downturn in the property market led to two debt restructurings in 2009 and 2011.

The plan for a return to the London stock market, where it has traded for 39 years of its 50 year history, will see Varde and Deutsche sell some of their stakes, while £50 million from new shares will go towards paying down existing debt.

Stephen Stone, who has been Crest's chief executive since 2005, highlighted the company's "robust" balance sheet and said its short-term land bank now boasted 17,000 plots on 72 sites.

He added: "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 Government, we are well positioned to generate value for shareholders."

The company, which employs nearly 600 people, announced results showing a 28% rise in revenues to £408 million, while profits of £62.1 million for the year to October 31 compared with a loss of £27 million a year earlier.

Housing completions were up 24% to 1,882 but Crest hopes to return volumes to around 2,500 homes a year within three to four years. The average selling price was up 3% to £230,000 in the period.

Varde and Deutsche Bank will not sell any further shares for a period of at least 180 days from the date of the listing, while directors, senior managers and staff will retain at least 75% of their holdings and have agreed not to sell any further shares in the first year.

It is expected that the listing will complete next month.

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