New York trade in Beazer helps Hanson's UK issue: Flotation of British housebuilder expected to raise pounds 360m

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The Independent Online
HANSON'S proposed flotation of Beazer Homes, the UK arm of the building company it acquired in 1991, received a boost when shares in the separately floated US operation began trading in New York at a premium.

Shares in Beazer Homes USA were changing hands at almost a dollar above Tuesday's offer price yesterday, their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The pathfinder prospectus for the UK flotation of what will be the UK's fourth-largest quoted house- builder is expected to be issued later today, with the price to be announced on March 10.

Hanson priced the US offering - six million shares, representing a two-thirds stake in the new company - at dollars 17.50, the mid-point of the target range the company set in January. In midday trading in New York their price was up 75 cents at dollars 181 4 , with almost a quarter of the newly-issued shares changing hands.

The flotation, which raised dollars 105m, coincided with a placement of dollars 115m of 9 per cent Beazer Homes USA senior notes, due 2004.

Hanson plans to float all Beazer's larger British operations, raising an estimated pounds 360m.

Including cash earmarked for an expansion of annual completions the UK company is expected to have a market capitalisation of over pounds 450m. The new US company, based in Atlanta, is among America's 10 largest homebuilders and one of only a dozen that can claim a national presence, operating in nine states in the south-west and east.

The proceeds of the offerings will be used to cover the costs of Beazer's dollars 116m purchase early last year of Watt Housing Corporation, a contractor operating in California, Nevada and Arizona.

'This is a major milestone in the history and growth of the firm,' said Brian Beazer, Beazer's non-executive chairman and founder.

Separately, another Hanson division sold a large tract of land in Hawaii to Schuler Homes, a rival US contractor. Proceeds from yesterday's announcements are dollars 232m.

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