Barratt sells US unit to focus on UK

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The Independent Online

Barratt Developments has agreed to sell its US business, Barratt USA Holdings, for $165m (£90m).

The housebuilder said yesterday that proceeds from the sale would be used to purchase land around the UK for urban renewal projects, to increase Barratt's stake in the UK property market.

Barrat's chief executive, David Pretty, said the company had made "a good strategic move to focus all our attention on the UK".

Unlike Barratt, its two main competitors, Taylor Woodrow and Wimpey, are expanding their operations in the US, which currently account for about 25 per cent of their business.

Barratt saidit had to choose between the high costs of expanding its small US business, which accounts for less than 5 per cent of its profits, or increasing investment in the more profitable UK market. The company said it has planning permission to build more than this year's total of 14,000 houses next year, and hoped to push construction to 20,000 a year by 2010.

Michael Pattinson, the US unit's president, is one of three managers putting up a total of $3m towards purchasing the group. Bank of America will provide the rest.