Countryside Properties faces demand from activist hedge fund to sell housebuilding arm

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·2 min read
UK houses
Countryside’s housebuilding arm is one of its two main operating divisions and one of the largest in southeast England, accounting for around 40% of its total group revenues. Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Countryside Properties (CSP.L) is facing demands from activist hedge fund Browning West to break itself up by selling its housebuilding arm, it has been reported.

The US fund, which owns an 8% stake in the London-listed property group, has also told the company to hand over a board seat to its founder, Sky News revealed, citing insiders within the firm.

The broadcaster said that the request was made several weeks ago and is expected to be followed by further discussions before the end of the year.

It comes after Browning West upped its stake in Countryside from 5% to 8% less than two months ago.

Countryside’s housebuilding arm is one of its two main operating divisions and one of the largest in southeast England, accounting for around 40% of its total group revenues.

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A Countryside spokesperson told Yahoo Finance: “We have engaged in extensive private dialogue with Browning West as we do with all of our shareholders. We have a clear strategy to accelerate the growth of our partnerships division which we are focused on executing.”

“It is the job of Countryside’s board and management team to do what is best for the company and to create value for all shareholders,” they said. “Browning West has raised matters which the board and management have previously considered and we will continue to engage with Browning West and our other investors in that context.”

In September, Countryside was one of four housebuilders facing action from the competition watchdog over leaseholds.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into Barratt, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Countryside after finding evidence that buyers of leasehold properties were misled and charged excessive fees.

The CMA said the developers may have broken consumer protection laws. All four developers said they would cooperate with the CMA investigation.

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