06 Sep 2022

Linklaters and Norton Rose steer Vistry Group acquisition of Countryside for £1.25bn

Linklaters acts for Vistry on combination with troubled rival housebuilder Countryside, advised by Norton Rose

Linklaters name on side of London headquarters

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Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) are advising on FTSE 250-listed housebuilder Vistry Group’s combination with smaller rival Countryside Partnerships in a £1.25bn cash and share deal.

The acquisition will create one of the country’s leading housebuilders and will give Vistry greater scale ahead of an expected UK recession that threatens to put an end to the strong housing market seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It follows a challenging year for Countryside that saw the company lose more than half its value and its CEO Iain McPherson step down after it failed to cash in on the UK property boom that created huge profits for its rivals. 

A cross-practice team from Linklaters is advising Vistry on the deal. The team is led by partners Iain Fenn and Charles Turner and managing associate Matthew Hearn from the corporate team, while partners Jonathan Ford and Natura Gracia are advising on antitrust aspects and banking partner Toby Grimstone and managing associate Atish Shah are leading on finance elements.

The team from NRF includes London-based corporate partner Kit McCarthy and senior consultant Chris Pearson. 

Vistry expects the deal will more than double its operating profits to north of £800m, according to the Financial Times

It has the support of major Countryside shareholders including US investors Browning West and Inclusive Capital Partners, the latter of which had its bid to buy the company for £1.5bn turned down earlier this year. 

Following the takeover, Countryside will join Vistry's existing group of brands alongside Bovis Homes, Linden Homes and Drew Smith. 

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