Rock Pacific selects Holborn for Countryside brief

Rock Pacific, the Bahamas-based vehicle backed by billionaire Joe Lewis, has drafted in Holborn to handle interest in the stake it has acquired in house-builder Countryside Properties.

Rock, which is also backed by property entrepreneur Paul Kemsley and Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy, brought in Holborn director John Bick last week after the company was forced to declare it had a 28 per cent interest in Countryside, which is in the midst of a management buy-out.

While part of Rock’s stake is made up of ordinary shares, it also holds contracts for difference, which push its potential stake to more than 28 per cent. Although Rock has yet to make an offer for Countryside, the Takeover Panel can require firms that take 30 per cent or more of a company’s share capital to mount a bid.

Countryside announced last month that it was the subject of a £218m MBO backed by HBOS. Management will need at least 75 per cent of the shares to complete the buy-out making Rock’s stake a potential obstruction to the deal.

City watchers believe much of Countryside’s value is tied up in its land bank, much of which is in the Thames Gateway area.

Weber Shandwick Square Mile director Nick Oborne is advising Countryside Properties.

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