Sir Tom Hunter’s Castle Bidco consortium has made a firm offer to buy Crest Nicholson, one of the UK’s biggest housebuilders.

Just 10 minutes before the expiry of a ‘put up or shut up’ deadline imposed by the Takeover Panel, the consortium – which also comprises Bank of Scotland – offered 629.7p a share to buy the outstanding Crest Nicholson shares it did not already own.

The Crest Nicholson board has said it is minded to recommend the offer, which consists of a cash offer of 620p a share and the right to a final dividend of 9.7p

a share that it intends to declare in its preliminary results on 25 January.

The Takeover Panel has agreed to extend the ‘put up or shut up’ deadline to 28

February, after which Crest will have to announce it will recommend the offer or formally reject it. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.