Oaktree's Countryside Plans IPO as U.K. Housing Market Booms

Countryside Properties Plc, a U.K. property developer owned by private-equity firm Oaktree Capital Management LP, is planning an initial public offering and will use the proceeds to pay off debt and speed up developments.

Countryside intends to raise about 114 million pounds ($164 million) of net proceeds, targeting a minimum free float of 25 percent, the company said in a statement on Thursday. The IPO could value Countryside, based in Brentwood, Essex, at about 1 billion pounds, people with knowledge of the company said on Tuesday.

"We have fantastic growth opportunities here," Countryside Chief Executive Officer Ian Sutcliffe said on a conference call with reporters, pointing to high demand for new housing in the U.K., particularly in London. He wouldn’t comment on the company’s valuation. "We want to make sure we have sufficient funds to grow the business."

Countryside’s IPO come as U.K. house prices climb and developers race to build homes fast enough to keep up with demand. U.K. house prices rose for a 12th straight month in December, according to LSL Property Services Plc and Acadata.

Countryside was initially listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1972 before it was sold in 2005, according to the company’s website. Oaktree invested in the company in 2013. Countryside builds homes in the suburbs of London and the southeastern part of the U.K. and works with local authorities to develop public-sector land.

The shares will be listed on the London Stock Exchange in the first half of February, Sutcliffe said. About 64 million pounds of the proceeds will be used to repay revolving credit facilities and 50 million pounds to speed up projects at existing sites, including Acton, Beaulieu, Hazel End and Rayleigh, according to the statement.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is managing the sale, along with Barclays Plc and Numis Securities Limited.

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