A quartet of blue-chip property investors, including the owner of Pinewood Studios, are vying to buy Keepmoat, the Yorkshire-based group which has become a national powerhouse in affordable homes construction.
Sky News has learnt that Aermont Capital, Apollo Global Management, Patron Capital and Terra Firma Capital Partners – the financier Guy Hands’ investment vehicle – are the final remaining bidders for Keepmoat Homes.
The identity of the company’s suitors underlines investor appetite for the housebuilding sector after a period in the doldrums.
A private sale is likely to value the company at about £700m
Sources said a decision was likely to be taken later in the summer about a winning bidder, even as Keepmoat’s owners retain the option of pursuing a public listing for the business.
A private sale is likely to value the company at about £700m, while an initial public offering could put an even higher price on it.
Under the ownership of TDR Capital, which has just engineered the £6.8bn takeover of Asda, and Sun Capital, which is led by Hugh Osmond, one of the UK’s best-known entrepreneurs, Keepmoat has grown from a small regional player to a national operator.
If Terra Firma prevails in the auction, it would be expected to combine Keepmoat with Kier Living, which it bought for £110m in April, or Annington Homes, the Ministry of Defence’s residential housing supplier, which it also owns.
Barclays and Numis are overseeing the preparations for a float, while Moelis is handling the sale talks.
Keepmoat was among the industry players which became indirectly owned by British taxpayers after the 2008 banking crisis, and was bought by TDR and Sun in 2014.
They bought the business from Lloyds Banking Group in 2014 after Britain’s biggest high street lender had been left holding an equity stake after the financial crash.
The current owners bought the business from Lloyds in 2014
Lloyds ended up as Britain’s biggest owner of housebuilders, eventually selling companies such as Crest Nicholson, Cala and McCarthy & Stone.
Keepmoat describes itself as the UK’s seventh-biggest housebuilder as measured by the number of homes it builds each year, and says on its website that the average selling price for its homes is £161,000 – well below the current national average.
It adds that almost a third of its homes are sold to housing associations and the private rented sector, with the remainder sold to first-time buyers.
Keepmoat is run by Tim Beale, a former Crest Nicholson executive.
None of those contacted by Sky News would comment on Friday.