Joint bidder HBOS and West Coast Capital made approach after buying 27% of Crest Nicholson shares

Crest Nicholson, the housebuilder and regeneration specialist, has rejected an offer from HBOS and West Coast Capital.

Crest announced to the stock exchange today that the board had rejected the 585p a share offer.

Crest did not name the potential suitors in its statement but Castle Bidco, the joint venture bidding vehicle, responded with its own statement confirming its approach.

Castle Bidco made the approach after buying 27% of Crest shares, including the 23.4% stake in the company owned by Gerald Ronson’s property company, Heron International. Heron itself approached Crest last year but that bid was also rejected by the board and Ronson was unsuccessful.

That makes Castle Bidco Crest’s biggest shareholder, and Crest said that it was “seeking to verify this holding.”

The news drove shares in Crest up by almost 9% from 571.5p to 621.5p.

The Castle Bidco offer is significantly higher that the 345p-430p a share that Ronson was proposing to pay last year, although this partly reflects the increase in Crest’s shares since then

HBOS and West Coast Capital, which is backed by property and leisure entrepreneur Tom Hunter, said in its statement: “This announcement does not amount to a firm intention to make an offer to acquire the entire issued share capital of Crest Nicholson and accordingly, there can be no certainty that any offer…will be made.”

The bid comes just two months after the two teamed up to buy retirement home specialist McCarthy & Stone for £1.1bn in September.