Wilson Connolly takes itself off market

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The Independent Online

The "For Sale" sign came down at Wilson Connolly yesterday, after the housebuilding company decided to trade itself out of trouble instead.

The group parted with its chief executive, John Tutte, in October as it delivered a profits warning. Allan Leighton, the chairman, also initiated a "strategic review", which was seen as a thinly veiled attempt to flush out a bidder. Cazenove, the finance house, was appointed to put a deal together.

Yesterday Wilson Connolly admitted a "merger with another housebuilder would not currently produce the best value for shareholders".

Its new chief executive, Graeme McCullum, said: "It [a merger] was a theoretical possibility that we examined. It was not an actual possibility."

Wilson Connolly was hit by a break-down in management and its costs were well above of competitors. It launched into a disastrous foray, from the end of 2000, into building houses using timber frames ­ a more expensive method.

The company's full-year results, also released yesterday, demonstrated the challenge ahead. Pre-tax profit, before goodwill and exceptionals, fell to £47.1m for 2001, from £66.8m the previous year. This was despite turnover rising 31 per cent to £710m.

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