Bovis Homes boss says firms worth less than £100m will be shut out of plan to build 1 million homes in South-east.
The government's regeneration drive will lead to the decline of the small housebuilder, according to Bovis Homes chief executive Malcolm Harris.

Harris told Building that housebuilders valued at less than £100m would struggle to raise the capital needed to work on John Prescott's communities plan, which aims to build one million homes in the South-east.

He said banks would be reluctant to lend money to firms of this size for use on high-risk schemes. Harris added: "A lot of big regeneration projects are capital-intensive. If you were a bank, you would be happy to give capital to a large company where the project would be a small part of the portfolio, but if it were a small firm you would be worried that it was the major part of its portfolio."

If smaller housebuilders do lose out in regeneration work, it is likely to accelerate the trend towards consolidation in the sector. Last week, Taylor Woodrow made a £480m offer for medium-sized housebuilder Wilson Connolly.

Bovis Homes has a net debt of £84.9m. Harris said the company would be comfortable increasing that to about £120m over the next five years as it looked to expand by acquiring companies or land.

Harris made his comments after the announcement of the company's interim results on Monday. Bovis Homes announced a pre-tax profit of £46m for the first six months, a rise of 11% on the same period last year.

Banks will be reluctant to lend money to smaller firms for use on high-risk schemes

Turnover on continuing operations was £190.6m, a fall from £201.2m. The company also has planning consent on 10,596 plots.

Bovis Homes has grown substantially since it floated in 1997. Its share price then was around 200p, last Friday it closed at 474p.

n Predictions by housebuilder Swan Hill earlier this year that its core sectors would be adversely affected by a softening of the market were realised this week when it announced a sharp fall in interim pre-tax profit.

It made a pre-tax profit of £1.9m in the first six months of this year, barely half the £3.7m it made in the same period last year.