Private equity firm sells 23% of the housebuilder for £321m

Countryside Properties’ US-based former private equity owner has sold half of its stake in the recently relisted housebuilder.

The stock exchange was told today that Oaktree Capital Management has sold half its stake in Countryside Properties for more than £320m.

The firm, which bought Countryside in 2014, sold 103,686,504 shares – 23% of the housebuilder’s issued stock – at 310p each, leaving it with 103,686,505 shares in the Essex-based housebuilder.

Oaktree’s remaining 23% stake cannot be sold until at least three months have elapsed from the completion of the sale, although experts doubt the firm would want to sell anytime soon.

“Oaktree has done extremely well,” said analyst Tony Williams of Building Values. “I can’t see them selling anything more [of its stake] for perhaps a year or so.”

The timing of the sale was “exemplary,” Williams added. “The sector is valued at £38.2bn, it’s up 28% since the start of the year, above pre-Brexit levels, and this sale comes off the back of a storming set of first half figures from Countryside,” he said.

Countryside floated on the stock market in February last year and recently announced first half underlying profits up 39%.

“They’re doing well not just in their own housebuilding activity, but in their partnerships as well,” said Williams.

“Private sector units up 54%, partnership units up 23%. These were great numbers,” he added.

Announcing its half year results last week Countryside, said its performance had exceeded its own expectations and it was upgrading its forecast for the full year.

Oaktree remains exposed to UK housebuilding through its £500m stake in specialist retirement homes business Pegasus.