Investor in UK housebuilder Countryside calls for chair's ouster in break-up play

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LONDON (Reuters) - The third-largest investor in British housebuilder Countryside on Wednesday called for the company's chairman to be replaced and for its own representative to join the board as part of efforts to break up the company.

The move follows previous letters to the board in which U.S.-based Browning West laid out its plan to split off the company's housebuilding arm from the Partnerships unit which helps build social housing alongside local government groups in Britain.

Doing so would "enhance outcomes for all of Countryside's stakeholders, as well as ensure that the Company can continue to fulfil its important role in the community by addressing the UK's chronic housing shortage in a sustainable manner," it said.

In Wednesday's statement, Browning said it wanted the board to immediately appoint the fund's representative, Usman Nabi, to the board, citing his experience in dealmaking and capital allocation.

It also wanted the board to immediately begin searching for a replacement for the current chairman, with Nabi co-leading the search.

Once in place, Browning said the new chair should look to reassess the current operating plan to try to improve return on capital and margins in both 2021 and 2022, as well as kick off a process to split up the company and overhaul capital allocation to reduce the risk of further equity offerings.

In response, Countryside issued a statement saying it maintained an ongoing dialogue with its shareholders and listened carefully to the views they express, and would provide more information alongside its full-year results on Dec. 3.

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)