Scotland business

Miller Group and Blackstone head towards deal

Miller Group, the property and construction firm, is negotiating a major investment with one of America's largest private equity funds.

GSO Capital Partners, part of the giant Blackstone investment house, is understood to be proposing a £160m equity stake in the company.

The plan is to consolidate other similar businesses within the Miller Group as they come on the market.

The Scottish firm has already been gathering distressed assets at auction.

The Blackstone investment assumes chief executive, Keith Miller, will continue to steer the Edinburgh-based company.

Advanced talks

A spokesman for the Miller Group, the UK's largest privately-owned firm, said there was no comment on speculation about the deal.

However, the BBC has learned that talks are at an advanced stage, with more detail expected when Miller Group publishes financial figures in September.

The Blackstone investment is being portrayed by those close to the negotiations as a vote of confidence from the investor, that it believes the problems in the property and construction sector have now bottomed out, and that it is backing Miller Group as the vehicle to consolidate and grow out of the downturn.

In 2010, Miller Group, which is 60% owned by the Miller family, reported a pre-tax loss of £58m, down from £72m in 2009. Revenue last year was £666m, down by 15%, and debt stands at about £600m.

Its divisions cover property development, construction and home-building, while it also has a mining operation.

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