Private equity and investment funds are also linked to sale of collapsed housebuilders’ sites

Galliford Try and Croudace are understood to be among the firms considering a swoop on the assets of Oakdene Homes, which went into administration last week with estimated debts of £85m.

They are two of 35 candidates that have expressed an early interest in the sites of the £23m-turnover business.

Administrator Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) has appointed property consultant Atisreal to market six large developments, including schemes in Newhaven, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

Andy Yallop, chief executive of £100m-turnover Croudace, said the company had made tentative inquiries. “It’s early days and I’ve no idea if it will get anywhere,” he said. Galliford Try declined to comment.

Berkeley Group has also been named as a possible buyer, and it is one of the few housebuilders with cash to spend. The suggestion was dismissed by chief executive Tony Pidgley. “Why on earth would I want to go down that route?” he said. “They have seaside developments and that’s a market you have to be very well established in.”

Another industry source confirmed “at least four or five” private equity and investment funds were interested. He said: “They would take over one or all of the sites and either back a new management team or the existing group of directors.”

It is understood former chief executive Carl Turpin is no longer a paid employee of the company, although he is said to be helping the administrator with the sale.

There have been a few redundancies from the board but Turpin remains a director. PwC said the firm’s 42 staff will be kept on for the foreseeable future.

A source close to Oakdene said the fact the company specialised in more expensive home market, which has been hit especially hard by the downturn, was an obstacle in securing the support of its banker, RBS.

Death by numbers

The amount Oakdene failed to raise £9.75m last year in a rights issue
The firm’s gearing (debt divided by 180% equity) in June 2008
The amount profit slumped in 2007 33% (from £8.2m to £5.5m)
The amount ITV was seeking in a £2.5m planning row over studios in Southampton
The number of days chief executive Carl Turpin said it would take 7 to refinance deal last October