The latest housebuilder merger was sealed this week when Wimpey shareholders approved the £461m purchase of Alfred McAlpine's housing division.

The deal caps a busy year on the consolidation front for the sector but already thoughts have turned who may be next to get hitched. Wilson Connolly, Westbury and Swan Hill are the names being mentioned.

"Of course the City would love to see more consolidation, but can these deals be done for the right price and in this uncertainty?" one sector analyst asked. The long-term future of Laing's housing division is still uncertain given the group's woes, but its small landbank may put off any potential buyers.

In the market, Laing's share price fell 52% to 112.5p almost immediately after the sale of its construction arm and its interim results were announced last Thursday.

Since then there has been very little trading in the stock. The price fell to 109p on Monday before recovering slightly.

The shares peaked at 570p in early March but since then have steadily fallen. "The remaining shareholders cannot afford to get out at the moment so they are hanging on and hoping things improve," said an analyst.