Market source confirms Countryside has appointed a third strategic adviser, Rothschild

Ian Sutcliffe

Housebuilder Countryside has drafted in City adviser Rothschild to advise it on strategic options as it widens its options beyond a planned flotation on the London stock exchange, Building understands.

A market source confirmed Rothschild’s appointment, amid reports the firm has received two unsolicited takeover approaches.

Private-equity-owned Countryside has been known to be exploring exit options for over a year. In December last year Building revealed Countryside was not likely to float in 2015 due to concerns about the general election, confounding analyst expectations of a float this year.

Despite a convincing victory for the Conservatives in the election, Countryside has remained coy regarding any planned flotation.

The Financial Times first reported Countryside’s appointment of Rothschild last Friday, and that the firm had received two unsolicited takeover approaches.

Rothschild joins Countryside’s existing roster of advisers assessing its strategic options - JP Morgan, Numis and Barclays. The firm is led by chief executive Ian Sutcliffe (pictured).

The market source said the advisors would assess all options for the business, and that these included both a potential flotation and a potential sale.

Countryside has enjoyed strong growth in recent years. In its last set of accounts for the year to September 2014, the firm reported a 44% increase in completions to 2,034, up from 1,409 units the previous year, while pre-tax profit increased by 152% to £12.6m, up from £5m.

Countryside has a four-year target to increase the number of units that it builds to 4,000 a year while doubling turnover and profitability.

Last month Countryside, alongside Newlon Housing Trust, were selected as preferred bidder for a 141-home development in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

The firm is set to be an early adopter of the government’s discounted ‘starter homes’ programme, having signed up to the policy from the outset.

In August Countryside appointed former Quintain finance director Rebecca Worthington as chief financial officer, fueling speculation of a possible flotation as Worthington brought 14 years of experience from stock exchange-listed Quintain to the firm.

Countryside declined to comment.