views

BUILDERS GO CAP IN HAND FOR 850M

HOUSEBUILDERS Barratt and Redrow are today expected to tap shareholders for a total of &pound;850m to shore up balance sheets that have been battered by the property slump.<br /><br />Barratt is set to unveil plans to raise &pound;700m in a placing and open offer through its house broker UBS.<br /><br />And rival Redrow is expected to launch a &pound;150m rights issue in a move that will be supported by chairman Steve Morgan, who has a 29.9 per cent holding.<br /><br />Today&rsquo;s fundraisings follow in the footsteps of a slew of house building rivals that have gone cap in hand to the market. <br /><br />Berkeley, Bovis, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey have all tapped shareholders for a total &pound;1.2bn.<br /><br />The cash calls come as no surprise to analysts who said that Barratt would have to raise at least &pound;500m this month to make a dent in its &pound;1.3bn debt mountain.<br /><br />Investec analyst Alastair Stewart said that Barratt was &ldquo;the riskiest of all the major quoted housebuilders&rdquo;.<br /><br />Stewart said that the group had &ldquo;simply too much debt, even after the possible rights issue, which, we suspect, would mainly be to fund existing sites &ndash; not to purchase new land&rdquo;. <br /><br />Redrow&rsquo;s Morgan, who returned to the group in March after staging an audacious boardroom coup,&nbsp; reported the firm&rsquo;s worst set of trading results in the group&rsquo;s history earlier this month. It suffered a record loss of &pound;140.8m.<br /><br />Panmure Gordon analyst Mark Hughes said that due to early signs of market stability he believed that the housebuilders would be offering a discount of around 20 to 25 per cent on their respective cash calls.<br /><br />Bovis, a stronger rival, recently launched its &pound;60m share placing with a discount of just 1.17 per cent, but struggling Taylor Wimpey launched its rights issue with a hefty 48 per cent discount.<br /><br />Redrow and Barratt declined to comment. <br />