Company founder Stephen Wicks is sole supporter with £2.5m purchase of new shares

Troubled housebuilder and land trader Inland Homes has failed to secure backing from outside investors for a fundraising effort designed to provide the South east-based firm with up to £4.6m in working capital.

Inland, which is on course to see its shares suspended from the AIM exchange on Monday for failing to provide its accounts on time, managed to raise just £2.5m by issuing new shares. All of that money came from a bulk purchase by the company’s founder, former CEO Stephen Wicks.

Inland, which has endured a torrid six months since Wicks resigned in September on the announcement of a major profit warning, also revealed yesterday that it has yet to commission a professional services firm to undertake a review of recently-revealed “related party issues” which are now holding up the finalisation of the 2022 accounts.

stephen-wicks Inland Homes

Stephen Wicks has bought 25 million shares in the firm he co-founded

Inland said yesterday it had ultimately raised £2.5m through the issue of 25 million shares, and that Wicks, whom it described as “a founder of the company, former CEO and the company’s major shareholder”, had taken all 25 million at the subscription price.

Inland had priced the shares at 10p, despite the fact shares in the company have been trading below 10p for over a month, meaning anyone looking to buy a stake in the firm would have been able to buy them more cheaply on the open market than by participating in the fundraising. The firm said it will use the money to fund the “working capital requirements within the company”, rather than to invest or expand.

The company confirmed yesterday that it expects trading in its shares to be suspended on Monday at 7.30am in any event, as it will not be able to publish its audited results by today’s deadline. It said: “The company intends to request a restoration of trading in its shares on publication of its FY22 audited results.”

Inland said it was in “advanced discussions” to commission a professional services firm to review the related party issues, which it said was a “pre-condition to the finalisation of the company’s audit process which is estimated will take a number of weeks”.

At the start of the month chair Simon Bennett and board members Carol Duncomb and Brian Johnson, formerly the boss of housing association Metropolitan, all announced their resignations after informing the board of issues which may be treated as “related party transactions” under stock exchange rules.

The firm initially said it was looking to re-appoint Wicks to its board to fill the vacancy in the business, but later said he would not be returning, after other board members were appointed.

Inland yesterday also made clear that Lazard, which it appointed in September to conduct a strategic review of the business, had “terminated its engagement” with the firm. Inland said: “This process has now come to a conclusion, in relation to which Lazard has terminated its engagement.” No further explanation was provided.

The move is the latest chapter in a torrid period for the £182m-turnover regeneration specialist. Last September it warned that it would make a loss of around £37m for the year. Then in January it revealed this figure had ballooned to more than £90m.

Wicks announced his retirement last September following the profit warning but his replacement, former Galliard boss Don O’Sullivan, quit in January just over a month into the job.