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Crest Nicholson rejects approach from Elliott-backed Avant

Crest Nicholson.  Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Crest Nicholson. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The board of Crest Nicholson has rejected an approach from the Elliott-backed Avant Homes, saying it was “not currently minded to engage” in negotiations with the firm.

The rebuff comes just weeks after the embattled FTSE 250 housebuilder successfully shrugged off a £650m all-share offer from rival firm Bellway in the same week it was forced to slash its dividend after sliding into a loss in a half-year earnings update.

Avant Homes then tabled several unsolicited, indicative proposals for Crest, Sky News’s Mark Kleinman revealed today (July 5), which all consisted of an all-share merger of the two firms as opposed to a takeover.

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In a statement to markets, Crest Nicholson confirmed the report, saying: “The Board… evaluated the Avant proposal… and concluded it was not currently minded to engage in discussions regarding a potential transaction with Avant while in an offer period in relation to a possible all-share offer from Bellway.

“Accordingly, the Board of Crest Nicholson sent a letter to Avant on 27 June 2024 setting out its decision and explaining its position.”

London-listed Bellway has been set a deadline of next Thursday (July 11) by the Takeover Panel to announce a firm offer for Crest Nicholson or it will be barred from making any other bids for six months.

Bellway has not confirmed whether it plans to return with a formal offer.

Crest Nicholson’s statement continued: “The most recent indicative proposal [from Avant] was an all-share acquisition by Crest Nicholson of Avant in consideration for the issue of Crest Nicholson shares to Avant shareholders, whilst retaining the listing of Crest Nicholson on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange.”

Avant’s speculative move comes in a period of heightened M&A activity in the housebuilding sector.

FTSE 100 giant Persimmon is purportedly weighing up a bid for Legal & General-owned Cala, while, earlier this year, housebuilding giants Barratt and Redrow agreed a £2.6bn megamerger.