Developer increases holding in Anglo-Czech firm to 98%

Developer Gallagher Holdings has set the date when it will delist housebuilder Abbey from the London Stock Exchange following the acquisition of a further 2.8% stake in the firm that has pushed its total ownership above 98%.

The firm announced in December that it planned to buy out the remaining shares in Abbey and take the business private, ceasing trading on the stock exchange.

An Abbey development in Sittingbourne

Source: Abbey PLC

An Abbey development in Sittingbourne

Gallagher said at the time that it would pay £14.4m for the 4% of shares in Abbey that it did not already own, and that the figure was a small premium on the share price.

Today the developer said that it had now acquired 64.35% of the outstanding shares in Abbey that the December offer related to, but that the offer would be extended to 21 April ahead of Abbey ceasing to trade on AIM and Euronext Growth on 30 April.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange it warned that the purchase offer would not be extended beyond 21 April.

It added: “The cancellation of trading of the shares will significantly reduce the liquidity and marketability of any Shares not acquired by GHL.”

Gallagher’s offer valued Abbey at £329m. It came as the housebuilder reported half-year results for the six months to October 31 showing pre-tax profit up by 20% on the same period in 2019 at E26m, despite the covid crisis.

Turnover was also up 14% at E105m, despite the 291 sales achieved being marginally below the level seen last year.

However the firm, which does the majority of its business in the UK but which has small operations in Ireland and the Czech Republic and reports its results in Euros, warned that there were signs that supply chain and skilled labour shortages may emerge in the year ahead.

While the firm said it had achieved a “reasonable outcome” for the year, it said “considerable uncertainty” remained over longer-term prospects. It said: “Some difficult, perhaps very difficult, trading periods may lie ahead.”