UPMARKET housing developer Cala Group has a new front runner in the race to snap up the 138 year-old firm – private equity shop Patron Capital led by ex-Lehman Brothers banker Keith Breslauer.
Cala Group, the first Scottish company ever to list on the London Stock Exchange, is in exclusive talks with Breslauer’s Patron Capital to offload the business for around £250m, though a sale could be some weeks off, it is thought.
Lloyds Banking Group owns a 32 per cent stake in the company following a £280m debt for equity swap in 2010. Management and staff own the rest.
Patron Capital is set to beat another potential suitor, listed builder Taylor Wimpey, to the punch for the firm following a bidding war which is understood to have featured several other private equity shops.
Patron was set up by Breslauer in 1999 and has investments totalling €2.3bn (£1.9bn).
The sale would underscore renewed confidence in the property sector, and give further comfort to Lloyds shareholders keen to see the bank shrink its overloaded balance sheet.
Cala Group focuses on the affluent end of the housing market in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, the Cotswolds and the Midlands.
It defied the gloomy property picture last year to deliver bumper profits of £11.4m, up from £2m the year previously on the back of a 24 per cent climb in sales.
Patron Capital and Cala declined to comment. Taylor Wimpey was unavailable for comment last night.