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Gleeson left as £200m turnover house builder

Company to sell its civil engineering, concrete repair and commercial property businesses

GLEESON will end up with a turnover of £200 million and staff numbers of around 500 after the company confirmed its break-up and exit from contracting last week.

Chief executive Terry Massingham's six month review was concluded with the announcement Gleeson is selling its civil engineering and concrete repairs business.

House building operations are also being significantly scaled back and the firm is selling its commercial proper ty investment por tfolio.

Staff levels at the end of its last financial year were over 2,600 with sales com ing in at £600 m illion.

But the loss-making building arm was sold to a management team last August while the firm's exit from contracting altogether will be completed once it finalises a deal for its civils business.

Last month the company sold its Gleeson MCL rail building and civils operation to Morgan Sindall for £23 million.

Gleeson will no longer build houses for private sale and is instead concentrating on snapping up land and selling it on complete with planning permission to rival developers.

A spokesman said: 'We make a lot of our money out of strategic land trading rather than building the land out, which is best left to others.' The firm has a bank of 2,500 acres it plans to sell on. The company's housing operations will concentrate on regeneration and social housing maintenance.

As a result of the changes, venture capitalist Castle Acquisitions, which made an indicative offer in December, said it would not be making an offer for the group.

The Gleeson spokesman said Mr Massingham's shake up had not been driven by Castle's interest.

He added: 'We have done this on our own terms. The review started in September.'

News of the revamp came as Gleeson saw pre-tax profits for the half year to December 2005 crash to £685,000 from £7.5 million.

Sales were 3 per cent higher at £179 million. The firm is still expecting 2006 profits to be in line with forecasts, which analysts said will be around £20 million.

Gleeson is selling its head office in Cheam, Surrey, and moving west to Fleet in Hampshire where its homes business is based. Mr Massingham is also looking into switching Gleeson from a main market listing on the Stock Exchange to the less costly Alternative Investment Market.

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