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Tue May 11 2021

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Persimmon's Fairburn returns to buy Avant Homes

20 Apr Former Persimmon chief executive Jeff Fairburn has bought Avant Homes, with backing from a hedge fund.

Jeff Fairburn facing the cameras in November 2018
Jeff Fairburn facing the cameras in November 2018

Berkeley DeVeer, a small Wetherby builder that Jeff Fairburn bought into in January 2020, has acquired Avant Homes Group, in partnership with funds advised by Elliott Advisors.

Jeff Fairburn was chief executive of Persimmon until November 2018 when he was forced out amid a flood of bad publicity surrounding his £75m bonus. [See Persimmon sacks £75m CEO.]

Avant Homes currently has 60 live developments being delivered across five regions in the Midlands, Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland. It currently delivers approximately 2,000 homes each year, has a turnover of circa £500m and employs around 780 people. Berkeley DeVeer currently operates across Yorkshire and the North East of England.

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Avant Homes, formerly known as Gladedale, was a victim of the 2008/09 credit crunch, fell into bank ownership and had been owned by private equity firm Alchemy since 2014. Previous reports suggested that Alchemy was looking for offers of over £500m for Avant Homes, which is roughly equivalent to Avant’s annual turnover.

Under its new ownership, Avant Homes will continue to be led by the existing management team. As previously planned, chief operating officer Mark Mitchell will become chief executive on 1st May, replacing Colin Lewis, who will become non-executive deputy chairman. Jeff Fairburn, currently CEO of Berkeley DeVeer, will become chairman of Avant Homes.

Jeff Fairburn said: “Avant Homes is a fantastic business, with a strong proposition and a compelling track record of growth. It has a high-quality management team that has transformed the business, with an unrivalled focus on building design-led homes in the housing market’s fastest growing regions. We look forward to working with the team to further invest in the business and develop it into one of the UK’s leading housebuilders.”

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