Lancaster poised for buyout at HR Owen

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HR Owen shares rose 21.5p to 175p yesterday after the upmarket car dealer revealed that its chief executive, Nicholas Lancaster, has told the board he is mulling an offer for the company.

Last year was a tough one for the group, when losses hit £11.3m and margins were squeezed. Owen scaled back its dealerships from about 40 to 10 and focused on selling Bentleys and Rolls-Royce cars. Three Audi outlets went to a management team for £4.7m, and later 10 Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Lexus and Jeep dealerships were sold to rival Lookers for £13.1m.

Mr Lancaster, the biggest shareholder along with his family with a 22 per cent stake, said he felt other shareholders would be better served by an offer than by continuing to trade as a public company.

He also stressed that it was too soon to name a price that he may be prepared to pay.