Possible merger puts social landlord’s development pipeline in doubt

Cosmopolitan Housing Group, which owns nearly 14,000 properties in north-west England, has begun merger talks with one of the country’s largest social landlords in a move that puts its development pipeline in doubt.

Cosmopolitan said it had begun merger talks with Riverside Group in what, if successful, would be Cosmopolitan’s second merger in a year after it merged with the Chester & District Housing Trust last year in a bid to strengthen its financial position.

“Cosmopolitan has experienced significant challenges and reduced its development programme during the summer,” the group said. “The Board of Cosmopolitan has approached Riverside to see if they could help them improve delivery to the communities they serve, leveraging Riverside’s financial strength and experience in managing group structures.”

Cosmopolitan recently slashed its construction programme by a third and made 22 development staff redundant, with chief executive John Denny saying that it would need the  “shelter of a bigger group” to continue its development programme.

Cosmopolitan is to receive £13.3m of government funding to finance the construction of 699 homes over the next three years.

Riverside chief executive Carol Matthews told the Financial Times it was too early to say whether Cosmopolitan’s remaining development programme would continue if it joined her organisation.  “We have just started the due diligence, we are not in a position to make a full assessment [of Cosmopolitan’s financial position],” she said.