Housebuilder backed in £210m deal

Confidence in the housebuilding sector has received a further boost following a deal worth £210 million for Edinburgh-based firm CALA.

The business, which builds around 875 homes a year with an average selling price of £340,000, has been sold by Lloyds Banking Group to insurer Legal & General and private equity firm Patron.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
CALA's sale comes after the recent successful £600 million flotation of housebuilder Crest Nicholson and a raft of positive trading updates from the sector.

The company, which targets the more affluent areas of the UK such as the Home Counties, the Cotswolds and areas around Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, added that its trading performance so far this year has been "exceptionally strong".

It returned to profit one year of schedule in 2011, having been loss-making since 2008, and recently announced a six-fold increase in profitability to £11.4 million for the year to June 30.

Chief executive Alan Brown called the deal, made up of £140 million of equity and £70 million of debt, a significant step forward for the company. He added: "Having invested heavily in growing our land bank since 2010, we are now very well positioned to grow the business significantly over the next five years."

Lloyds Banking Group, which took control of CALA in a debt-for-equity swap in 2009, will continue to support the business with a new £100 million five-year banking facility.

Existing senior management will hold a 7% stake following the deal, with L&G and Patron each taking 46.5%.

The acquisition is part of L&G's strategy to target socially useful projects, such as housing, education, transport and energy sectors, that deliver high rates of return and fit its financial and strategic criteria.

CALA, which stands for City of Aberdeen Land Association, has a land bank of 9,900 owned and contracted plots with a potential gross development value of £3.1 billion.

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Housebuilder backed in £210m deal

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