Stephen Wicks, who founded C&M in 1990, pockets £10m as he sells firm to private housebuilder

Housebuilder Country & Metropolitan’s founder and chief executive Stephen Wicks was this week £10m richer after selling the business to private national housebuilder Gladedale.

Wicks, who had an 11.5% stake, pocketed the fortune when shareholders voted in favour of a £72m takeover, representing an offer of 300p a share.

Wicks said he had “mixed feelings” about the sale, having built up the firm since 1990, but added that it was a great result for shareholders and C&M staff.

“The approach was unexpected, but after a month of negotiation and after sounding out our institutional shareholders we felt the price fully reflected the value of the business,” he said.

The two companies complement one another: Gladedale is in Epsom, Surrey, but 80% of C&M’s business is in northern England. Gladedale does have a big presence in the North but the takeover will give it a greater exposure.

Nishith Malde, Wicks and C&M finance director, intends to stay on for three months to help with the transitional phase. Wickes is also staying on for a short time to assist the changeover but added: “After that, I’ll be going on holiday. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next, but I intend to stay in the sector.”

The newly formed company, which is expected to have a combined turnover of £500m, will be run by Gladedale chairman and chief executive Remo Dipre. Dipre said that the takeover represented a “substantial addition” to the Gladedale group. “It further continues our ambitious plans of expanding our operational activities throughout the UK,” he said.

C&M is the third quoted housebuilder to be snapped up by Gladedale in five years. It acquired Furlong Homes in June 2004, expanding its presence in central London and the South-east, and Bett Homes in May 2003, boosting its exposure in Scotland and northern England.

Gladedale is also understood to have approached Countryside Properties last year, but the approach was rejected.

C&M published its interim results last week. Pre-tax profit rose 25% to £7.5m, on a £37.1m turnover, a rise of 15%.

C&M and Gladedale: How they compare

Country & Metropolitan

  • Founded in 1990

  • Floated on stock exchange in 1999

  • Number of staff: c. 300

  • Chief executive: Stephen Wicks

  • Majority of business in north of England, brownfield development

  • Interim pre-tax profit: £6m (+25%)

  • Interim turnover: £37m (+15%)


  • Founded in 1996, privately owned

  • Number of staff: c. 700

  • Chief executive: Remo Dipre

  • National business, big presence in Scotland, new-build work, regeneration, refurbishment

  • Pre-tax profit 2004: £40m (+97%)

  • Turnover 2004: £341m (+47%)