Our Client, Countryside buys housebuilder for £135m

Housebuilder Countryside  has splashed out £135.4 million on their first major deal since returning to the public around 2 years ago buying Leicester regional housebuilder, Westleigh, founded by Chris Beighton in 1985.

Westleigh has delivered more than 1,100 homes in partnership with local authorities in the last year which 92 per cent were affordable, generating an operating profit of £15.6 million, with gross assets of £76.1 million and currently has a land bank of 4,981 plots and an overall new business pipeline of 13,000 plots.

Chris Beighton recently told the Mercury a £21 million stake in Westleigh sold to Palatine Private Equity in 2016 – when turnover was £128 million – had given the Whetstone business a new sense of direction.Chris will be stepping down as chairman once the deal is complete.

Ian Sutcliffe, chief executive of Countryside, said: “Westleigh is a well run business with a strong strategic, geographic and cultural fit to Countryside and provides us with an excellent platform for further partnerships growth.

“We see huge opportunity in combining Westleigh’s regional expertise with the Countryside mixed tenure business model.”

The acquisition is in line with Countryside’s strategy to expand its partnerships – and Westleigh provides a “strong strategic and cultural fit” with the Countryside model.

The business said: “Countryside’s mixed tenure model of delivering private for sale, private rental sector and affordable homes together with the enhanced buying power from being part of a larger group will improve underlying returns in the Westleigh business.”

Shares in Countryside were up 1.4% at 342.8p in early deals.