China's Evergrande emerges as potential Cala buyer

Chinese property developer Evergrande Group has been named as a possible buyer of Cala, the upmarket housebuilder based in Edinburgh.

Cala is said to be in 'detailed talks' over a deal with Chinese suitor Evergrande. Picture: Contributed
Cala is said to be in 'detailed talks' over a deal with Chinese suitor Evergrande. Picture: Contributed

Reports first surfaced last week that Cala, which traces its roots back to 1875, was in early stage discussions with a mystery suitor, and Sky News has now reported that Hong Kong-listed Evergrande is in “detailed talks” over a deal that could be worth almost £700 million.

A spokesman for Cala said: “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.”

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Cala catches eye of potential buyer from China

Three years ago, Cala – which has an average property selling price of £538,000 – was bought by private equity firm Patron Capital Partners and insurer Legal & General in a deal worth £210m.

Accounts for the year to the end of June revealed that pre-tax profits topped £60m for the first time in the group’s history. Revenues rose by 15 per cent to £587.1m.

Speaking at the time of the builder’s results, chief executive Alan Brown said: “Despite headwinds in some of our markets, we have continued to build on the strong momentum we have generated over recent years, once again delivering robust volume and revenue growth while still achieving incremental improvements in our return on capital employed.

“Our growth strategy remains to focus on driving operational efficiency improvements throughout the group as we continue scaling up our divisions.”

Evergrande, which also has interests in the finance, internet, health, tourism and sports sectors, has more than 500 property projects in some 180 cities throughout China and employs more than 80,000 people.