Crest Nicholson hails a jubilant market return

Kasmira Jefford
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CREST NICHOLSON made a successful return to the stock market yesterday, after the 50-year old British housebuilder completed a listing which valued it at £553m.

The company, taken private by Scottish entrepreneur Tom Hunter at the height of the housing bubble in 2007, priced its shares at 220p, the upper half of its original range.

As part of the listing, Crest is raising £224.9m, with £169m going to existing shareholders Varde Investment Partners and Deutsche Bank and £56m going to the company to pay down existing debt.

Stephen Stone, who has been chief executive since 2005 saw the value of his shares shoot up to £10m after the listing. Chairman William Rucker, who is also head of Lazard London saw his shares valued at £8m.

Crest Nicholson’s return to market brings an end to a painful five years for the group that including two rounds of debt restructuring. US distressed investment fund Varde Partners took majority ownership after buying up its debt in 2011.

The company, which builds homes mainly in the south of England, also reported last month it returned to a pre-tax profit of £62.1m last year, up from a £27m loss in 2011.

Norton Rose partner Mark Lloyd Williams who worked on the IPO ­– the first on the London Stock Exchange this year – said: “This flotation is a litmus test for all those watching to see if the UK equity markets have reopened for business”.



BARCLAYS Capital and HSBC acted as joint sponsors, joint global co-ordinators and joint bookrunners on Crest Nicholson’s initial public offering. Derek Shakespeare, a managing director at Barclays’ investment banking division, is leading the effort for the bank. He recently advised Redrow founder and chairman Steve Morgan’s vehicle Bridgemere and fund manager Tosca on their bid to take over the housebuilder, which was eventually pulled. He is joined by Chris Madderson, part of the bank’s UK origination team and Ben West in the equity syndicates team.

HSBC’s advisory team was led by Nick Donald, head of equity capital markets (ECM). His previous deals include acting as joint bookrunner for miner Lonmin on its $817m rights issue in November. Simon Cloke, head of diversified industries at HSBC and ECM director Stuart Dickson worked with Donald on the deal.

Norton Rose, the law firm also acted for Crest Nicholson, with corporate partners Mark Lloyd Williams and Tom Vita leading the team. Norton Rose also recently advised the consortium led by Malaysia’s SP Setia that bought Battersea Power Station last year. Meanwhile broker Numis is lead manager on the listing while Lazard & Co is financial adviser to Crest Nicholson.