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Berkeley Group Signs $616 Million JV to Build Homes

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July 26 (Bloomberg) -- Berkeley Group Holdings Plc, the U.K. homebuilder focused on London and southeast England, agreed on a 400 million-pound ($616 million) joint venture with charitable foundation Wellcome Trust Ltd. to invest in residential regeneration projects.

The venture, named St. Katharine, will seek to buy long-term regeneration sites in London and the rest of southern England, Berkeley said today in an e-mailed statement. Wellcome Trust, a charitable foundation that invests in real estate to raise money for medical research, will fund the venture, according to the statement.

“We will be opportunity led, bidding at the right time for sites that would not otherwise be viable and turning them into fantastic places,” Pereira Gray, managing director of the Wellcome Trust’s investment division, said in the statement. “It is good news for the U.K. housing market.”

Berkeley, based in Cobham, England, has profited from acquiring land in the southeast of the country, where the housing market escaped the worst effects of the global recession and mortgage lending has been less constrained. U.K. home sellers raised asking prices for a seventh month to a record in July and values will increase twice as much as previously forecast this year, property-website operator Rightmove Plc said July 15.

The number of homes being built in Britain reached its highest in five years, the National House Building Council said in a statement on its website. A total of 67,422 new homes were registered in the first half of this year, the most since 2008.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Gower in London at pgower@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Blackman at ablackman@bloomberg.net

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