Countryside takeover battle starts to get warm

A Countryside Partnerships brochure shot

An intervention by US hedge fund Browning West, which has a 15.3% stake in Countryside Partnerships, is adding pressure on the board to listen to offers.

Last week another major shareholder, Inclusive Capital Partners (In-Cap), which owns 9.2%, revealed that it had made two approaches to the Countryside board about submitting a take-over bid but had been shown the door.

The Times newspaper on Saturday 4th June reported that Browning West also believes that the London Stock Exchange listed house-builder should be taken private or taken over by a larger business. Browing West has reportedly written to Countryside’s board urging it to start a sale process

In-Cap today said that it supported any proposal from shareholders that the board of Countryside run a formal sale process “and would welcome the opportunity to participate in any such process”.

Jeffrey Ubben, the founder and managing partner of In-Cap, said: “As noted in our previous announcement, on 30th May 2022, we have attempted to engage with the board of Countryside in good faith and have been rebuffed each time despite offering to provide selling shareholders an attractive selling option at a meaningful premium. A robust auction process, with proper due diligence, will allow In-Cap to put its best foot forward. All other shareholders can decide for themselves from the fully informed options in front of them.”

In-Cap and Browning West are both based in California – the former in San Francisco, the latter in Los Angelese.

In-Cap’s latest proposal to Countryside was to pay 295 pence per share at a time when the share price was at around 238 pence.. In the past week, with talk of possible takeover, the share price has risen above 280 pence.  Countryside’s share price started 2022 at around 450 pence and had been 570 pence last summer, hence shareholders getting frustrated.

Countryside’s board said that In-Cap’s proposals “materially undervalued the company and its prospects”.

As previously reported, under City takeover rules, Inclusive Capital has until 5pm on 27th June to declare one way or the other whether it intends to make a firm offer for the Countryside.

Countryside has been here before. It was previously listed on the London Stock Exchange from 1972 to 2005. It was taken over by private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management from Lloyds Banking Group in 2013 and was re-listed in 2016.

The company changed its name on 28th January 2022 from Countryside Properties to Countryside Partnerships.

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