GRAINGER has appointed an expert in mergers and acquisitions to the board on the back of a busy few months for the Newcastle-based property giant.
Belinda Richards joins Britain’s biggest residential landlord as a non-executive director after a 20-year career with major accountancy and corporate finance firms, most recently as global head of Deloitte’s merger integration and separation advisory services.
Grainger has itself completed five major deals since announcing its annual results in November, when it revealed that pre-tax losses had dipped from £170m to £20.8m in the year to the end of September. It made an adjusted profit before tax of £18.8m.
Grainger spokesman Kurt Mueller said: “Belinda Richards has a huge amount of experience in mergers and acquisitions and we’ve been doing a lot of that.
“We said in our final results we want to get a larger debt profile and spread our debt around. Since November 25, we’ve done five business deals, all of which have delivered on those two promises.”
One of the company’s main thrusts is to be more “creative” with its developments.
In Aldershot, Hants, where it won a major Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract which could be up to 4,500 homes, it is concentrating on ‘parceling up’ the land before selling it on to the housebuilder.
“We don’t own the land, the MoD does,” said Mr Mueller. “We are putting in the basic infrastructure and then selling each parcel of land to the housebuilder. It’s a very unique type of deal. It’s very long term – a 15 to 20 year project.”
Grainger has also been granted outline planning consent for 2,550 homes for the Newlands project in Waterlooville, also in Hampshire.
Mr Mueller said: “While we own the land there, it’s very long term. It’s the same concept of us servicing the land and selling it on to house builders.”
The project is based on green community living spaces, incorporating facilities such as a school, pub, leisure centre and offices.
“On a strategic level, it’s not something new but we haven’t had deals like Newlands and Waterlooville in years,” said Mr Mueller.
“These types of non-traditional house building and development are for us the way forward and allow us to build on our skills. The two deals are both very long term and very unique.”