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Persimmon boss denies family influence

PERSIMMON chairman Duncan Davidson has rejected claims that family influence played a part in the firms proposed 170 million acquisition of Trafalgar Houses Ideal Homes offshoot.

The denial follows a slanging match with rival house builder Beazer, which is livid about the Persimmon deal.

He denied suggestions that Persimmons non-executive director Sir Chips Keswick, who is the brother of Trafalgar chairman Simon Keswick, had influenced the deal.

Speaking at the deals City launch this week, Mr Davidson said: Those comments were out of order.

Neither of the Keswicks were involved in the negotiations, which had been between executive directors. Any suggestion otherwise is wholly inaccurate and totally irrelevant.

We took a lot of trouble looking at the business. We worked out what we were prepared to pay. Our offer obviously topped theirs.

Beazer Homes said it was both surprised and disappointed that Trafalgar had granted exclusive negotiation rights to Persimmon to buy Ideal.

A spokeswoman said Beazer was looking at the deal agreed by Persimmon and Trafalgar. Any new offer Beazer might make would depend on the value of Ideals tax losses.

But Mr Davidson believed there was little room for alternative bidders.

He said: I believe this is a done deal. They have agreed to sell, we to purchase.

The only thing that could overturn Persimmons bid would be a shareholders revolt at Persimmon or Trafalgar.

The takeover of Ideal will mean the closure of six offices but the firm would not comment on the number of job losses. A 2 million provision has been made to cover reorganisation costs.

The Persimmon acquisition capped a week of busy corporate activity in the house building sector

Bellway took a 4.8 per cent stake in the troubled North West house builder Wainhomes.

And Edinburgh-based contractor Miller Group is seeking a buyer for its 20 million turnover house building arm in southern England, Miller Homes Southern.