According to The Australian Financial Review, Newcastle-based MJH Group, the country's fastest-growing home builder, wants to expand into Victoria, where it does not yet operate, and could buy out ASX-listed Simonds Group, in which it already holds a 16 per cent stake, to do so.
Privately owned MJH, which last November used its shareholding to block the bid by founder Gary Simonds to take back the company he listed in 2014, had long intended to expand into Victoria, the largest detached house-building market, but had not decided whether to do that by starting up a new operation or acquiring an existing one, chief executive Andrew Helmers told The Australian Financial Review.
"If Simonds were to fit our plans for expansion into Victoria, then we'd be interested in pursuing them with an alliance or a potential takeover," Mr Helmers said. "But we are yet to determine whether they fit our plans in Victoria."
A Simonds spokeswoman said the company had had no discussions with any of its significant shareholders about any possible tie-up.
Mr Helmers would not comment on the board restructure announced by Simonds on Wednesday. Nor would Melbourne developer Frank Palazzo, who recently doubled his holding in the company to 10 per cent.
MJH's fortunes have soared. The company was the fast-growing home builder in the HIA ranking for a second year in 2017 and overtook Simonds, jumping into sixth place with 2716 home starts.
But the market is slowing, Mr Helmers said.
"We're seeing a slowdown in the market and the buyers are moving towards affordability. So build prices are coming down. That's a challenge for them and us."
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