Three leading house-building companies were today reported to be lining up offers as part of a £2bn (€2.95) auction of a rival UK operator.
Wilson Bowden is believed to be in the sights of George Wimpey, Redrow and Bellway after David Wilson, the company’s chairman and founder, appointed advisers to review his family’s 33% stake in the business.
A deal would turn the winning bidder into the UK’s second largest house-builder and possibly spark another round of consolidation in the sector.
However, the trio could face competition from Halifax Bank of Scotland, which is one of the biggest lenders to the industry and helped finance takeovers of Countryside Properties and McCarthy & Stone, the retirement homes specialist. It was linked to a possible offer for the company in the summer.
Any sale is likely to be contingent upon the agreement of Mr Wilson, who it is thought has not yet decided whether to sell his stake. HSBC’s investment banking division will handle the auction process.
The Sunday Times said that preliminary financial information about Wilson Bowden had been requested by at least one of the potential buyers and confidentiality agreements were being signed.
Mr Wilson set up the business with his father Albert in 1961 and has seen it become the UK’s fifth largest firm with pre-tax profits of £216.4m (€319.6m) in 2005. It is best known for the brands David Wilson Homes and Wilson Bowden Developments, which focuses on retail, leisure, office, industrial and mixed use schemes.