Clearwater International UK advises Westleigh on its £135m (€155m) sale to Countryside Properties plc

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Clearwater International UK has advised leading affordable housing provider Westleigh Partnerships (Westleigh), on its sale to housing developer Countryside Properties plc (Countryside).

Westleigh is a well-established home builder. In the year ending 31 March 2018, the business delivered over 1,100 homes in partnership with local authorities and housing associations and generated operating profit of £15.6m (€17.9m) from revenue of £150.6m (€172.7m).

The business was founded in 1985 by Chris and Judy Beighton, and has successfully expanded geographically from the East Midlands into both the West Midlands and South Yorkshire. The experienced Management Team and the workforce of over 450 will be retained to continue the growth of the business.

Chris and the Management Team successfully secured growth capital investment from Palatine Private Equity in July 2016, in a transaction advised by Clearwater International, which was voted Deal of the Year in the Insider East Midlands Dealmakers Awards.

Palatine Private Equity has achieved over a 3x return and a 90% IRR within two years of making the original investment.

The acquisition is in line with Countryside’s existing strategy to expand its Partnerships business, broadening the geographical reach into regions that have high underlying demand. It provides a strong strategic and cultural fit with the Countryside model and is an excellent platform for the acceleration of Partnerships delivery.

Countryside’s mixed tenure model of delivering private for sale, private rental sector, and affordable homes, together with the improved buying power from being part of a larger group, will improve underlying returns in the Westleigh business.

The Clearwater International team consisted of Partners Phil Burns and Rob Burden, and Associate Directors Richard Ellis and Mark Maunsell.

Chris Beighton, Chairman at Westleigh, added: “Westleigh’s experience having Palatine as our investor partner has been nothing other than positive. Palatine have supported management’s ambitious expansion plans for growth. While always remaining diligent, Palatine have allowed management to run the business and progress matters without clunky time consuming approval processes that would  have removed the business’s ability to be reactive to opportunities which give it the edge over its competitors. I would on behalf of the board and the business like to thank Palatine for their support.”

Richard Thomas, Head of Midlands at Palatine Private Equity and former board director at Westleigh, said: “It’s been a pleasure working with the team at Westleigh and we wish them every success as they start a new chapter in Westleigh’s development. Westleigh has been a great example of private equity backing an excellent and ambitious management team, working together to not only grow the business quickly but also improve it on all fronts. We are confident that the business will continue to thrive under Countryside’s ownership.”

Ian Sutcliffe, Chief Executive of Countryside, said: “Westleigh is a well-run business with a strong strategic, geographic and cultural fit to Countryside and provides us with an excellent platform for further Partnerships growth. We see huge opportunity in combining Westleigh’s regional expertise with the Countryside mixed tenure business model.”

Rob Burden, Partner, Clearwater International commented: “It has been a pleasure working with Westleigh for a number of years, helping to secure investment from Palatine to support its growth plans and now delivering a successful exit to a strategic buyer. This transaction is highly complementary to Countryside’s business, with a larger group balance sheet and the positive dynamics within the affordable housing market, we expect Westleigh’s impressive growth to continue into the future.”