Businessman Alan Bowkett spearheads bid for Britain’s biggest retirement home builder

Norwich City Football Club AGM 2010 at Carrow road. (l to r) Paul Lambert, Alan Bowkett, Delia Smith

Norwich City Football Club AGM 2010 at Carrow road. (l to r) Paul Lambert, Alan Bowkett, Delia Smith and Michael Wynne-Jones.; Photo: Simon Finlay; Copy:; For: EDP News; EDP pics © 2009; (01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2010

Businessman Alan Bowkett is being linked to a £500m bid to take over the country's largest builder of retirement homes – in a move widely regarded as a sign of growing confidence in the construction industry.

Mr Bowkett, who is best known locally as chairman of Norwich City Football club where he has helped to transform the financial fortunes of the club, is set to team up with equity firm CVC, which is one of the owners of Saga.

The move, which is completely separate from his work with the club, comes after he stepped down as chairman of McCarthy & Stone last week after informing his colleagues that he wanted to avoid any conflict of interest while pursuing the bid.

McCarthy & Stone sold about 1,400 properties last year, making it a leading provider of homes for the elderly.

In the last 30 years it has built 45,000 flats and it has properties across the region including Wherry Court in Norwich, Ainsworth Court in Holt, and Edwards Court in Attleborough.

It is also looking to secure planning permission to build a new development at South Quay in King's Lynn.

The deal is in its early stages, and neither Mr Bowkett nor McCarthy & Stone were available to comment.

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But last year it instigated a strategic review, bringing in investment bankers Moelis & Co to advise on its £500m debt. The review, which is set to end in three months, is looking at all options including private equity investment, a stock market return, or refinancing.

Sources close to the move said Mr Bowkett felt that he may want to put together a bid for the company and stepping down from the board prevented a conflict of interest. It is then thought that he approached CVC about putting together a potential bid.

The aim would be to put together a bid that would enable McCarthy & Stone to increase investment, which could boost new home building.

The move comes after major construction firms such as Persimmon recently reported strong results and rising profits, while the Office for National Statistics has also noted a rise in new construction orders for the end of last year.

Mr Bowkett is widely regarded as a 'significant figure' who is well-respected in the industry and enjoys a strong track record of investing in companies. While most people locally may know of him through his involvement at Carrow Road, where he has been chairman since 2009, he is also chairman of Strix, a Hong Kong electrical controls company, and Avio an Italian aerospace firm.

He was also a chairman of builders Redrow and between 1984 and 1987 was chief executive of Norwich engineering firm Boulton and Paul.