Takeover Panel says that Gerald Ronson's Heron must make a bid for Crest by noon on Wednesday 4 May.

Heron International has until noon on Wednesday 4 May to make a bid for housebuilder Crest Nicholson.

The deadline set by the Takeover Panel followed a request by Heron earlier this month for access to Crest’s books in order to carry out due diligence.

The Takeover Panel said that it had been in talks with advisors of both Heron and Crest. Heron said yesterday that it believed the decision put the onus on Crest to open its books.

In a statement earlier this month Heron said it would consider making a cash offer for Crest of between 345p and 430p. The Crest board said such an offer would significantly undervalue the company.

Crest chairman John Matthews said: “We believe that is in both shareholder’s and the company’s interests that Heron should clarify its intentions within a reasonable period of time to end the uncertainty of a prolonged approach.”