No Stone unturned by housebuilding boss

David Hellier
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STEPHEN Stone was a happy man yesterday. But he was, after a gruelling round of presentations, also a man with a gravelly sounding voice.

The chief executive of Crest Nicholson since 2005, Stone is the first person to lead a company to a main stock market listing in London this year and that’s required a massive round of presentations, lunches and breakfasts that have clearly taken their toll on the vocal chords.

Born in the east end of London, Stone never doubted London was the best place to float his housebuilding group, which had been financially restructured by Deutsche Bank and Varde after a heavily leveraged deal headed by Sir Tom Hunter ran into trouble.

“I always thought of London as the place to float, it’s our home town after all,” says Stone. “It was obvious to float here.”

Crest Nicholson, 50 years of age this year, is based in Weybridge, Surrey, after all.

After seeing shares in the housebuilding group, in which management have a 10 per cent stake, surge to a premium on the first day of conditional dealings, his confidence in London seems to have been well placed.

Certainly he reports no lack of interest in his group’s story. He said all the large UK institutions were interested to hear from him.

Many now think Crest Nicholson's success will prompt other companies to revisit their flotation plans. “The success of our float is good for the housing sector and good overall.”

With a bit of luck, Stone might be able to enjoy a couple of quiet days to leave him in tip-top condition for another day in the spotlight next week.

Unconditional dealings start on Monday and the housebuilding boss is in talks with the London Stock Exchange about opening the market that day.