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Luminus’ merger shortlist revealed

A troubled Huntingdonshire-based housing association has identified three potential partners for merger, Inside Housing can reveal.

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Luminus' merger shortlist revealed

Places for People, Optivo and Orbit shortlisted as potential Luminus merger partners

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Luminus has drawn up a shortlist including Places for People, Optivo and Orbit as its preferred options for a partner.

It is seeking a merger with a larger housing association following a downgrade to a non-compliant G3 rating in March and the departure of longstanding chief executive Chan Abraham in June.

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It is understood the three providers will now be interviewed with a preferred candidate selected on 5 September.

Luminus, a 7,300-home landlord created through a stock transfer of Huntingdon’s council housing in 2000, hopes the merger will allow it to up its development ambitions.

It was downgraded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) for governance failures, the most serious of which allowed more than 1,000 properties to languish without up-to-date gas safety certificates. Further problems involving electrical safety have also since emerged.

Following the downgrade, the organisation has added several board members with experience in the social housing sector and appointed Tom Miskell, chair of the Northern Housing Consortium and former chief executive of Together Housing Group, as interim boss.

In a letter to Huntingdonshire District Council last month, the landlord said its criteria for the merger included ensuring tenants have the same rights, services and rent guarantees they have now, retaining a base in Huntingdon and a development programme of between 500 to 1,000 homes over five years – significantly more than its current development programme.

Places for People is a nationwide housing association with more than 60,000 social homes as well as a large property management and leisure business and several other subsidiaries.

Orbit, which owns more than 40,000 social homes, is one of the sector’s largest developers of new housing, completing 1,788 new properties last year.

London-based Optivo was created through the merger of Amicus Horizon and Viridian in June and plans to up its development to around 1,500 units a year.

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