Countryside’s £1 billion float boosted by housing estate regeneration plan

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The planned overhaul of Britain’s worst 100 housing estates has given a huge political tailwind to the potential £1 billion float of regeneration specialist and housebuilder Countryside, according to its boss.

Countryside has announced plans to refloat more than a decade after the founding Cherry family took it private with Lloyds in 2005.

Lloyds took control in the financial crisis before selling it to private equity firm Oaktree Capital in 2013.

Just over half of Countryside’s revenues come from building expensive homes in well-to-do outer London and the Home Counties, but its partnerships arm has been building private and affordable homes on local authority sites around London and the North-West for 30 years.

Its float plan comes just three days after David Cameron launched the regeneration plans, backed by a report from Savills that claims an extra 360,000 homes could be built in London through higher-density redevelopment of estates.

Chief executive Ian Sutcliffe said: “Nearly 50% of our business comes through the regeneration of local authority estates. We’ve been banging the drum on this for a number of years, saying this is a great opportunity not just to increase housing but to really revive some of the economic communities around London.”

He added: “There’s such political support at government level and at local authority level that we want to bring the expertise we’ve built up over 30 years to bear on it.” Of the net £114 million raised in the float nearly half — £50 million — will be used to speed up four major regeneration schemes including Acton in west London.

Oaktree is selling down part of its stake. Management and the Cherry family retain a 15% stake in Countryside potentially valued at £150 million by the float.

Ascential, the exhibitions and information firm formerly known as Emap and then Top Right, also on Thursday announced float plans in a deal that could value it at £800 million.

The firm behind the Cannes Lions advertising and marketing festival — owned since 2008 by private equity firm Apax and Guardian Media Group — will raise £200 million by selling at least 25% of the company.

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January 15, 2016 |
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