Permira sparks bidding war for UK housebuilder

European buyout firm Permira looks to make it third time lucky with McCarthy & Stone, a UK housebuilder, after losing out on UK public-to-private bids for HMV, a music retailer, and DeVere Group, a hotel chain.

Permira, Europe’s largest buyout firm, has agreed to buy retirement-home developer McCarthy & Stone for £1.03 billion ($1.89 billion; €1.5 billion), the biggest-ever takeover of a UK homebuilder, in a deal backed by Barclays Capital.

The pair offered £10 a share in cash, according to a joint statement with McCarthy.

Permira has lost out on two UK public-to-private deals since March this year when HMV, a music retailer, twice rebuffed the buyout groups approach. Earlier this month the firm lost out in the battle for De Vere Group, a hotel chain.

Simon and David Reuben, UK property tycoon brothers, have made a £30 million higher counter proposal in a consortium including Tom Hunter, a Scottish entrepreneur and backed by Bank of Scotland, according to a statement. They expect to complete due diligence shortly.

At 16:30BST today McCarthy’s shares were trading at 42 pence above the Barclays and Permira bid price, suggesting investors suspect an improved offer may emerge.

The company is the biggest UK provider of retirement homes.

Barclays and Permira are being jointly advised by Citigroup and Dresdner Kleinwort. UBS and Hawkpoint Partners are acting for McCarthy.

NM Rothschild is advising Aldersgate, the Reuben’s investment vehicle, Bank of Scotland and West Coast Capital, Hunter’s firm.

Property investor Vincent Tchenguiz has also indicated that he’s prepared to pay about £1 billion for McCarthy, the UK paper The Times said.