Countryside slumps to loss, appoints advisers to look at housebuilding sale

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Countryside Properties PLC (LON:CSP) reported a loss for the past year, said chairman David Howell has stepped down and that advisers have been appointed to examine splitting the business in two.


The FTSE 250-listed builder has been under pressure from its third-largest shareholder, US-based Browning West, which has called for its own representative to join the board and for the group to focus only on its Partnerships social housing arm.


Brentwood-based Countryside said Howell intends to step down from the board next year and it will now begin looking for a replacement, while Rothschild & Co have been appointed to advise the board and help look for a buyer for its housebuilding arm.


“Since July, we have been accelerating the growth plans as we progress towards our goal of delivering 10,000 homes in our Partnerships division,” said chief executive Iain McPherson.


“As more capital is allocated to Partnerships we are reorganising the business to facilitate a future separation of the Housebuilding division to optimise long-term shareholder value.”


Having already revealed that completed house sales decreased 29% in the year to end-September, with revenue down 31% to GBP988.8mln and adjusted operating profit expected to fall around 77% to around GBP54mln.


The figure was confirmed at GBP54.2mln, though on a statutory basis, the company slumped to a GBP5.4mln operating loss compared to a GBP170.4mln profit last time.


McPherson said the group had started the new financial year “in a strong position to recover from the impacts of the pandemic” and “on track” to reach the upper end of consensus adjusted operating profit expectations for the new financial year.

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