In the 15 minutes it took to write this article, David Wilson lost £3m.

Wilson, the former boss of Wilson Bowden, got £271m in shares when Barratt paid £2.2bn for his company last February. In a quarter of an hour on Tuesday afternoon those shares dropped from 102p to 85p and were in freefall (falling to 69p by Wednesday morning).

In all, Wilson’s quarter-of-a-billion had dwindled to £19m by Tuesday, as Barratt’s shareprice fell from £10.34 in a year.

As rumours of land writedowns, breached banking covenants and rights issues persisted, newly-instated chairman Bob Lawson must have been wondering what he’d got into.

It prompted Alastair Stewart, analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort, to issue an investor’s note entitled: “Don’t buy (at any price) until financial picture becomes clear.”

He said: “We do not rule out some means by which a ‘white knight’ may support Barratt, but the bottom line is whoever supports it still has to inject an extra £1bn approximately.”

Step forward a Middle East sovereign wealth fund?