UPDATED May 14, 2016 9:35PM.
New York private equity firm Blackstone’s (NYSE: BX) GSO Capital Partners is said to have hired Rothschild to explore strategic options for its portfolio company, the Miller Group, one of the UK’s leading home-builders, Sky News reported.
An outright sale is the likeliest scenario, although other alternatives may also be considered. In March this year the Evening Standard reported that Miller Group had retained advisers Moelis & Co. in a possible attempt to revive plans for a previously aborted London listing.
“We looked at an IPO 16 months ago and then moved away at the time due to market volatility. That decision was vindicated by the performance of the business. It remains an option,” said Miller Group chief executive Chris Endsor.
Blackstone’s GSO currently holds 54% of Miller, while Coller Capital, the private-equity firm led by philanthropist Jeremy Coller, owns 23%, says the ES, adding that Miller completed 2,153 homes last year and is planning to grow its output by a further 50% to 3,250 units by 2019.
The move may further be prompted by market uncertainties caused by the UK’s upcoming EU Brexit referendum next month.
“The Bank of England has been among those warning that UK house prices could fall sharply in the event of a vote to leave,” commented Sky News City Editor Mark Kleinman.
The Miller Group remained a private company with the majority shareholding owned by the Miller family, from its incorporation in 1934 until it relinquished control in 2012, when a major refinancing led by Blackstone’s GSO Capital was completed following a global financial crisis.
The deal, which gave Blackstone a majority stake in the business, involved a £160m equity investment and debt restructuring, with a debt for equity swap and new five year committed term facilities. The investor group also included Miller Groups’ CEO Keith Miller, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, National Australia Bank, and Scottish merchant bank Noble Grossart Ltd.
In February 2015, Keith Miller decided to step down as CEO, although he kept his minority shareholding in Miller Group, following a failed attempt to float Miller Homes on the LSE, which had to be abandoned in October 2014 due to adverse market conditions.
The Edinburgh-based home-builder had planned to raise £140m by selling shares to investors on the London stock market in 2014. The initial public offering, with Moelis & Co. acting as financial adviser, would have valued the company at £450m. The investor group led by Blackstone had hoped to sell a portion of their Miller Group shares in the IPO.
In 2015, Miller Homes experienced a 76% increase in operating profit to £78.4m and a 14% increase in core completions driven by improved sales rates across all its divisions. A 14% increase in average selling price reflected its strategy of focusing on larger family homes in quality suburban locations.
Miller Homes is the key trading subsidiary of The Miller Group UK Ltd, a major UK property business specializing in home-building, commercial property, construction and integrated asset management services. Since its inception, Miller Homes has built over 100,000 homes. The company, formerly known as James Miller and Partners Ltd, was founded in 1934 by James Miller and his brothers John and Lawrence. It is headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland.
GSO Capital Partners LP is the global credit investment platform of Blackstone. With approximately $81 billion of assets under management, GSO is one of the largest alternative managers in the world focused on the leveraged-finance, or non-investment grade related, marketplace.
GSO seeks to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns in its business by investing in a broad array of strategies including mezzanine debt, distressed investing, leveraged loans and other special-situation strategies. Its funds are major providers of credit for small and middle-market companies and they also advance rescue financing to help distressed companies.
Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms with assets under management in excess of $344 billion. The firm was founded in 1985 with a balance sheet of $400,000 and a staff of four, including the two founders, Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman and CEO, and Peter G. Peterson, who retired as senior chairman in 2008.