HBOS-Led Group Given Deadline on Crest Nicholson Bid

HBOS Plc, Britain's biggest mortgage lender, and retail entrepreneur Tom Hunter's West Coast Capital have been given until Jan. 12 to state whether they plan to make an offer for U.K. homebuilder Crest Nicholson Plc.

No extension will be given to the deadline unless granted by the U.K.'s Takeover Panel, the authority said in a statement today. If HBOS decides not to bid, it will be prohibited from approaching Crest for six months, unless it has the consent of the regulator. Both parties accepted the ruling, the statement said.

Crest on Nov. 10 rejected a 659 million-pound ($1.3 billion) bid from HBOS and West Coast, which created Castle Bidco Ltd. to make the approach. The group made the biggest-ever purchase of a U.K. homebuilder in August with a 1.1 billion-pound bid for McCarthy & Stone Plc, Britain's biggest retirement home developer.

HBOS and West Coast Capital bought a 27 percent stake in Crest before approaching the Weybridge, southern England-based company's board with a 585 pence bid for remaining stock, which was 2.4 percent higher than the closing price on Nov. 9. They bought 23.3 percent of Crest from U.K. property developer Heron International.

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