Institutional share placing raises 18m pounds for Bryant: Builder sees strong recovery in UK housing market

BRYANT, the upmarket housebuilder, raised pounds 18m yesterday though a placing of shares among institutions. The company is using the money to buy plots of land for future housing construction.

Michael Chapman, Bryant's finance director, said the move underpinned the company's confidence in the UK housing market. 'We can now see strong recovery,' he said.

The pounds 18m would buy about 750 plots at a time when land was cheap.

About half the investment would be used to bolster the company's newer operation in the North of England, where it wants to add a third leg to its developments in Warrington, Lancashire, and Wetherby in Yorkshire.

The rest of the cash would fortify land banks in the West Midlands and the South of England, Bryant's longer-established areas of operation.

Bryant aims to sell to second-time buyers. Houses are priced in the pounds 90,000 bracket, some way above the average pounds 68,000 price for a new house calculated by the Halifax Building Society.

Some of the money being raised has been set aside to build even more exclusive houses. Bryant Country Homes has been set up as a new division to build a string of two or three house developments in rural locations with a likely price tag of pounds 350,000 - pounds 400,000.

The new shares were placed at a modest 4.5 per cent discount to the market value before trading began. The existing shares slipped 2p to 142p.