Graphite Capital To Back UK Developer

LONDON (Reuters) – Mid-market private equity firm Graphite Capital is investing 100 million pounds ($150 million) in residential development start-up London Square to exploit a deepening housing shortage across Britain.

The newly launched developer will be led by Adam Lawrence, former regional chairman of housebuilder Barratt London & Thames Gateway, and plans to build more than 600 new homes a year over the next five years.

It will focus on prime sites in key locations in and around greater London, where demand significantly outstrips supply.

“The London and south east housing markets are showing signs of recovery, and there remains a strong pipeline of new opportunities, including distressed land sales from financial and government institutions,” Lawrence said.

Developments will range in size and will include both private and affordable housing and prices will range from 200,000 pounds to 1.5 million pounds.

Graphite Capital is a specialist provider of private equity finance to mid-market companies in the UK.

It focuses on management buy-outs and buy-ins, expansion capital and turnaround deals, and invests in transactions with enterprise values of 25-200 million pounds.

It manages more than 1.1 billion pounds through three private funds and the Graphite Enterprise Trust PLC (GPE.L). London Square is the fifth investment made by Graphite Capital Partners VII, a 585 million pounds fund raised in 2007. 

The fund is also invested in luxury footwear retailer Kurt Geiger and up-market nursing home group Willowbrook Healthcare. (Reporting by Sinead Cruise; Editing by Andrew Macdonald) (See www.reutersrealestate.com for the global service for real estate professionals from Reuters)