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Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 10:21 GMT
House giants come under same roof

Two of the UK's best-known homebuilders have announced a "merger of equals" in the second shake-up in the sector this week.

Bryant Group and Beazer Group, boasting turnover of more than 1.5bn between them, are to join forces to form "a major force in the UK housebuilding industry".

The deal, which will create a company a named Domus, follows a year spent searching by the firms for merger partners within the volatile housebuilding sector.

The announcement comes four days after George Wimpey said it would merge two of its businesses, with the loss of 250 jobs.

And last month shares in building materials company Hepworth soared after it revealed it had become a takeover target.

'Exceptional opportunity'

Bryant chairman Hubert Reid, who will also head Domus, said the merger "provides an exceptional opportunity for increasing shareholder value and to generate cash".

Company profile - Beazer
UK's third largest housebuilder
Turnover: 841m (year to June)
Homes built: 8,223 (year to June)
Based in Bath
Has 3,000 employees

But operational savings of 20m within a year are expected to come at a cost to jobs.

About 300 jobs will be lost as the Domus scales down the 40 offices it will inherit from the two housebuilders, Beazer's chief executive John Low said in an interview.

Beazer alone employs more than 3,000 staff.

Thursday's statement said: "Synergies are expected to arise mainly from rationalising the combined regional office structure and procurement savings."

Good fit

The briefing also outlined the firms' "complementary skills, resources and infrastructure".

Company profile - Bryant
Specialises in 3,4 & 5 bedroom houses
Turnover: 705m (year to June)
Homes built: 3,961 (year to May)
Based in Solihull

Bryant, a specialist in larger homes, offers planning, greenfield and IT skills, while Beazer offers expertise in brownfield developments and social housing.

Beazer, already the UK's third largest housebuilder, also brings the Charles Church and Torwood brands.

Victor Benjamin, Beazer's chairman, said: "Our brand strengths, land management skills and regional office structure are clearly complementary."

'Merger of equals'

Beazer and Bryant shareholders, who have yet to approve the merger plans, will get a 50:50 split in the new company.

But the City proved uncertain that the deal is indeed a "merger of equals".

Shares in Beazer surged more than 9% to 143.5p in morning trade in London on Thursday.

Shares in Bryant stood less than 2% up at 145.5p.

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See also:

23 Feb 00 | Business
House prices keep booming
29 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Ban 'identikit' new homes: Hague
12 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Showdown looms over new houses
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