Share indices in the week to 24 May 2002
Just a week after Westbury snapped up Prowting, Persimmon raised the consolidation stakes once more by declaring it was on the look-out for another acquisition.

Persimmon believes that the time may be right for another deal after successfully digesting Beazer. It says it is keeping an eye out for a "smaller scale" acquisition but would also consider a bigger deal.

The big players' land hunger is driving this renewed appetite for consolidation, and smaller firms with good, long-term landbanks are the most attractive. Possible targets are listed firms such as Swan Hill, Crest Nicholson and Countryside Properties. Oh, and of course, the perennial Laing Homes, especially after Laing Group all but admitted that it wasn't that interested in housebuilding any more.

Some privately owned firms, such as Ward Homes and Bloor Homes, have entered the frame. Ward Homes, which was taken private by chairman David Holliday two years ago, is the most likely target, or so the City suspects.

The theory is that the capital venture firms that back delistings usually want to get0 their money out after two or three years and will gladly sell up if the opportunity arises: Ward fits this description perfectly.