FEW house builders have been able to avoid the rumour mill in recent months and, with the storm having blown over a possible bid for McCarthy & Stone, the focus has moved to Crest Nicholson.
Removing non-core operations often tends to lead to sale gossip, which can come true, as proven by Bett's longawaited sale of its pubs arm paving the way for an eventual sale to Gladedale.
Crest's disposal of its contracting arm to the management would seem to leave a potential buyer with little to rationalise, while the absence of a major family holding has also set tongues wagging.
Yet Crest remains more than a simple house builder, mixing development into the business using the construction management division, which was retained in the sale of Pearce.
In the six months to April 2003, Crest sold 833 houses, generating £211 million of turnover.
The development business provided a further £38.5 million in turnover.
This operates at a healthy 15.5 per cent margin but would not be wanted by some of the firm's bigger rivals that are leading the consolidation.
Crest's market capitalisation is more than £300 million - within reach of the top-end firms - but its step up in volumes and into social housing work, which has gone down well in the City, may not be too attractive either.
That does not mean that the shares are not worth a punt - just that those investors hoping for a big surge on a possible bid may be disappointed.