Scottish group signs confidentiality agreement preliminary to bid for £300m housebuilder

Miller Group is considering a bid for the £300m Linden Homes group as part of plans to expand its housing business in the south of England.

Building understands that it has signed a confidentiality agreement with Linden as a preliminary to making an offer.

Miller is unlikely to have a clear run at Linden, as other housebuilders, such as Bellway, Redrow and Barratt, are thought to be considering bids.

Linden appointed investment bank NM Rothschild in August to advise on a possible sale.

Miller, a private Scottish company that is expanding rapidly in England, bought Fairclough Homes for £264m in September last year.

Tim Hough, the chief executive of Miller Homes, declined to comment on Linden but did say Miller had made it clear that it wanted to expand, whether organically or through acquisition in the South.

“We have said on more than one occasion that we intend to grow and further penetrate the south f England. We are in the market and we do look,” said Hough.

After the Fairclough acquisition Miller Homes said it planned to build 4,000 homes this year, and Hough said that the company was on course to hit that target. The firm aims to increase that figure to 5,000 within five years.

In June Linden reported a £12.8m pre-tax profit on a £280m turnover.

The ownership of the firm is split between Philip Davies, the founder and chief executive, Andrew Sells, the chairman, and HBOS, which owns 32%. HBOS backed a management buyout for £72.9m in 2000.

Linden Homes at a glance

1991 Linden was founded by chief executive Philip Davies
2000 Davies took the company private with an HBOS-funded buyout
2005 It made £12.8m pre-tax profit on £280m turnover
2006 In September Linden announces it has hired investment bank NM Rothschild to find a buyer

Linden is 65% owned by its management and 35% by HBOS.Based in Caterham, Surrey, last year it sold 1,100 homes and had a landbank of 3,700 plots.