China’s Evergrande ‘in talks to buy Cala’

Evergrande Group, China’s second-largest property developer, has been unveiled as the company that is in early-stage talks to buy Edinburgh-based upmarket home builder Cala Group for up to £600 million.

Cala Group’s biggest shareholders Legal & General and Patron Capital are also considering a stock market listing for Cala, according to reports.

In 2013, Legal & General and Patron Capital each bought a 46.5% stake in Cala Group from Lloyds Banking Group and Cala management acquired a 7% stake in a transaction that valued the Edinburgh firm then at about £210 million.

Legal & General and Patron Capital have engaged Lazard to advise them on the talks and Hong Kong-listed Evergrande is being advised by KPMG.

A Cala spokesman told news outlets: “Thanks to the quality of our brand and strong financial and trading performance, from time to time we may find ourselves the subject of speculation but from our perspective it is very much business as usual.”

On October 3, Cala said its revenue rose 15% to £587.1 million and profit before tax — before exceptional items — jumped 18% £60.1 million in the year to June 30.

Cala said its average selling price rose 6% to £538,000.