Lloyds offloads Crest Nicholson stake to Varde

LLOYDS Banking Group confirmed last night it has agreed to sell its interest in bank-owned housebuilder Crest Nicholson to US investment fund Varde.

Lloyd’s has held around a quarter of Crest’s debt and 30 per cent of its equity since January 2009 when it took part in a debt-for-equity swap. The construction firm remains around 90-per owned by its lenders.

“Lloyds Banking Group has reached an agreement in principle to sell its debt and equity stake in Crest Nicholson for a cash consideration,” said a spokesperson, who declined to disclose the sale price.

“Lloyds Banking Group hopes to continue to support Crest Nicholson by providing its day to day banking services,” the spokesperson added.

Crest’s 60-strong consortium of owners rejected a £350m offer from Hugh Osmond, the tycoon behind Pizza Express and Punch Taverns, in July.

But Lloyds has long been looking to get rid of some assets taken on as part of its HBOS acquisition.

Verde will become Crest’s largest shareholder by some margin. The Minneapolis-based fund focuses on real estate and alternative investments.