Hanson buys into American house builder: Conglomerate confident of 'pretty good timing' for dollars 116m deal

HANSON, the coal mining to tobacco and building materials conglomerate, is extending its exposure to house building in North America.

Through Beazer, the homes and aggregates firm bought in 1991, Hanson is paying dollars 116m ( pounds 76m) for part of the Watt Housing Corporation.

Hanson is buying 37 developments representing 3,800 plots of land for residential use. Twenty are in California, and the rest in Phoenix, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Martin Taylor, vice-chairman of Hanson, said the plots would complement Beazer's house-building operation in south-eastern states. 'Both the US as a whole and the south-western states are lifting out of recession so this is pretty good timing.'

In 1992, Beazer built 1,200 houses in the US. Last year Watt Housing built 949, giving Beazer the chance to increase output by 60 per cent. Beazer has a larger house-building operation in the UK, where last year it built 5,000 homes.

Beazer's combined US and UK house-building operations were worth dollars 602m in turnover for 1992 and netted pre-tax profits of dollars 80m.

The dollars 116m purchase price represents a 20 per cent discount to the value credited in Watt's books. Mr Taylor said: 'The asset values in Watt's books reflect historic property prices. We are able to come to our conclusions without being saddled with those.'

Though large in absolute terms, the Watt acquisition is small fry for Hanson. Watt sold 949 homes last year for dollars 165m - or 1.2 per cent of Hanson's total turnover for the year to 30 September (at today's exchange rates).

The whole of Beazer's house-building operation contributed just 5 per cent to Hanson's overall profits for the year to September 1992 of pounds 1.1bn.

Matthew Sutherland, an analyst at the stockbroker NatWest Securities, said Hanson's strategy appeared to be to make bolt-on acquisitions in North America, while it was looking for a larger purchase in a new business area on this side of the Atlantic.

Mr Taylor said: 'We are interested in acquisitions whether they be here or in America.'

Mr Sutherland said the acquisition was an appropriate one for Hanson, but said the apparently low purchase price may be related to the sluggishness of the Californian economy, compared with the rest of the US.

California did well out of the 1980s boom but is taking proportionally more pain in recession. Californian property prices have been particularly vulnerable.

David Clarke, deputy chairman of Hanson Industries, the US arm of the conglomerate, said: 'The acquisition of Watt Housing at an appropriate time in the home-building cycle further expands Hanson's operations in building materials and handling equipment, forest products and home-building, in both the US and the UK, where it has become a major force in the construction industry.'

He estimated that the combined house-building operation would be the twelfth-largest in the US.

Hanson shares, unchanged yesterday at 232p, are at the same level as they were 12 months ago. In the intervening period the stock has sunk to 185p and risen to 262p. Relative to the stock market average Hanson has underperformed by 10 per cent over the past 12 months, but is still 20 per cent ahead over five years.

There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Life and Style
life“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

Network Engineer (CCNA, CCNP, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNA, CCNP, Linux, OSPF,...

First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Economics, Finance)

£23000 per annum: Harrington Starr: First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Ec...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice