Housebuilder Berkeley Group is forming three joint ventures worth £1bn with its biggest investor, Saudi Arabian Saad Investments, to build up its landbank.
Berkeley will invest up to £175m in the joint ventures with Saad, which has a 29.1% holding in the housebuilder. The joint ventures will be a land fund, a development company and a property investment company.
Berkeley said that if it invests the maximum £175m in the joint venture companies, it believes that, together with Saad’s investment and external bank debt, a fund of approximately £1bn would be available.
Building a large land bank would enable Berkeley to plan developments long-term, helping it to overcome the need to obtain planning consents quickly. This is the biggest problem facing housebuilders in the UK, and has been behind much recent M&A activity, including last week’s proposed merger between George Wimpey and Taylor Woodrow.
The deals, which are subject to shareholder approval, follow joint ventures between Berkeley and Saad in the 1990s. These included Saad Berkeley, a residential developer that is still operational.