BARRATT Developments made a rare acquisitive foray last week when it bought a Guildford-based developer, Squire Bridge, for more than £25 million.
The deal, although relatively small, has fanned City speculation that more consolidation is looming among the quoted house builders following the recent approach made for sheltered house builder McCarthy & Stone.
Barratt paid £4.2 million on completion of the deal with the balance to be paid when planning consents are received.
The cash is coming from the group's 2006 land budget and the firm says it will enhance earnings from day one.
Squire Bridge has four sites in Hampshire and West Sussex and some completed properties.
The planned developments will become part of the firm's Barratt Southampton & KingsOak divisions and are expected to provide more than 250 traditionally built homes.
Barratt chief executive David Pretty said: 'This acquisition provides Barratt with four excellent sites, two of which already have detailed planning consents, so we can quickly commence building.'