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UK Housebuilder Rejects Lowball £1.5B Takeover Offer from U.S. Investment Fund

Inclusive Capital had offered £1.5B for Countryside.

UK housebuilder Countryside Property has rejected an offer of £1.5B to take over the company.

San Francisco-based investment fund Inclusive Capital Partners approached Countryside with an unsolicited offer of £1.47B on Monday, offering to pay 295p per share, or a 25% premium over Countryside’s closing share price from the end of trading the previous week.

However, the housebuilder’s management held firm, stating in a “response to an unsolicited approach” statement to the London stock market that it had rejected two offers, the first for 225p per share in April, and the latest 295p per share offer dated 17 May.

Previous bids had been made in private; however, Inclusive Capital Partners went public with its latest takeover bid.

Countryside’s board said that it had carefully evaluated each proposal alongside Rothschild & Co, which is acting as its financial adviser. It concluded the bids “materially undervalued the Company and its prospects”.

Inclusive Capital stated that Countryside had refused thus far to provide access to due diligence materials, and said shareholders deserve “the opportunity to decide on the merits of any offer."

The housebuilder had swung to a £184.5M loss for the six months to the end of March 2022, with revenues down 9% to just over £600M. The reported operating loss includes a £109M fire safety provision and £77M impairment of intangibles.

However, the housebuilder’s order book had surged, up 19% to £1.8B.

Defending the decision not to engage with the takeover bid Countryside’s board noted it "believes that the historical valuation multiples referred to by Inclusive Capital relating to volume housebuilders are not appropriate comparatives for the purposes of valuing countryside partnerships."

It added: “Countryside shareholders are strongly advised to take no action in relation to the approach from Inclusive Capital.”