Private equity firms are among the parties circling Crest Nicholson, according to sources close to the takeover negotiations

The housebuilder is still in talks with pizza entrepreneur Hugh Osmond, who is understood to have offered about £350m, even though the period of exclusivity ended this week.

Weekend reports said Horizon, Osmond’s listed bid vehicle, had pulled out of talks, but the source confirmed the pair were still discussing a deal. They said: “The talks with Horizon continue as one of a range of options. Private equity groups are also interested because Crest is seen as a good company.”

It is understood Morgan Stanley, Crest’s adviser, is to report within several weeks with a range of options and a fair valuation for the firm, which is owned by Lloyds Banking Group. A straight flotation is one option that has been explored.

According to another source familiar with the process, talks have been made more difficult by the deterioration in the housing sector. They said: “With the budget looming, sales rates have dipped a bit.”

Crest Nicholson declined to comment.