Phil Miller, director of Miller Group, has said there is no sign that minority investor HBOS wants to pull out of the company
The bank, which was taken over by Lloyds TSB in January, is understood to have paid about £100m for a 20% stake in the company in April 2008.
Last month, Lloyds, which took over HBOS in January to form Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), was forced to announce writedowns of £10.8bn as a result of the division’s lending to construction and property firms.
It prompted speculation that LBG would seek to reduce its exposure to the sector, which includes investments in Crest Nicholson and retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone. Private equity groups are known to be running the rule over its social housing investments, which include Keepmoat and Apollo.
Miller said: “They have been a very supportive shareholder and there is no sign of pulling out. They are well aware of what we’re about and the fact LBG took HBOS over hasn’t changed anything.”
He added that Miller was unlikely to be the most pressing priority for the new banking group. “We’ve taken the measures that we needed to and I think there are other more urgent cases out there than us.”
As a result of the recession, the company has been forced to cut 600 jobs. This cut staff levels from 2,000 to 1,400.
In the year to 31 December 2008, the company plunged to a £170m loss after total writedowns of £136m in its housing and property divisions.
Turnover at the hybrid housebuilder and contractor fell 20% from £1.3bn to £1bn despite a strong performance at its construction division (see graph).
Miller said market conditions in 2008 had been “extraordinary” but added that there may be “some opportunities in the commercial land market before the end of the year”.
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More on the financial history of Miller Group at www.building.co.uk/archive