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Market Watch


THE END of the year has seen a brief flurry of floats with Wren Homes finally getting away on the Alternative Investment Market.

Set up by Peter West and Paul Treadaway in 1994, the Surrey house builder and land trader listed on Plus Markets - the loosely regulated division of the stock market formerly known as Ofex - in 2001.

A shift to AIM had been mooted for several years. With a strategy finally defined as a focus on the retirement market, Wren got away last week and raised £5.8 million with a placing that included 8.3 million shares at 36p each to institutional investors.

Another larger, and perhaps more interesting, float followed this week, with the listing of West China Cement, a cement producer and distributor based in Shaanxi Province.

WCC has three plants, the oldest in Pucheng, dating back to 1977, and is building two more plants at Lantian.

The £20 million raised by the float will pay for this work, which will double the capacity of the business to 3.5 million tonnes a year.

Shares in WCC, which made a £3 million profit on £15.8 million turnover in 2005, started trading on AIM on Monday and valued the business at £66 million.

On the main market, a potential takeover of Wilson Bowden boosted trading in other house builders.

Among the contractors, Rok rose 10.5p to 755p after showing analysts the offices and sites of Tulloch, the Scottish contractor it bought last month for £31.3 million.