Housebuilding and property group Artisan has entered talks with two companies about takeovers that would dramatically increase its size.
A statement issued by chairman Stephen Dean after Tuesday's annual meeting said: "The company continues to have a progressive merger and acquisition policy, and we are in discussions with two possible merger targets.

"The success of these potential mergers would substantially increase the size of Artisan and introduce some international institutions to our shareholder base."

The company made a similar pledge two years ago, which resulted in a buying spree that included the £10.3m purchase of Midlands housebuilder EC Rippon in December 2000.

There have been rumours that the firm was looking to take over fellow housebuilder Propan Homes, which is listed on the alternative investment market. Artisan bought an 11.7% stake in Propan in March this year, but then denied it had plans to increase its holding.

Building revealed in July that Artisan was trying to exchange its AIM listing for a full listing on the stock exchange. It was hoped that this would make the company more attractive to institutional investors. Dean said this would not be pursued in the near future.