Shares in UK’s biggest house builder are crashing — and it’s not clear why

Shares in Barratt Developments, the UK’s biggest listed house builder, are crashing on Thursday, shedding more than 7% of their value in early trade.

There does not appear to be any major catalyst for the share move, with the company having already reported their latest results in early September. Regardless, shares are tanking, dropping to £4.42 each, a low not seen since early August.

Here is the chart:

Barratt homes

One potential driver of Barratt’s fall is the continued worry among investors about the bribery scandal engulfing the developer.

Last week, the firm was embroiled in a major corruption probe after its Regional Managing Director for London,
Alastair Baird was suspended and arrested by London’s Metropolitan Police. Another, unnamed former Barratt employee was also arrested as part of an investigation into alleged bribery.

The Met said in a statement it launched an investigation “regarding a number of allegations of corruption concerning a public limited company” in April this year, adding: “The allegations related to irregularities in the tendering process.”

Both have been bailed while police continue their investigation and told to return to a police station at an undisclosed date in early 2017, a spokesperson for the Met confirmed on the day news emerged of the arrests.

Barratt said at the time of the arrests that it has adopted “additional controls” to guard against any future problems. Barratt CEO David Thomas said in a statement:

“We are committed to meeting the highest ethical standards in all aspects of our business. We have acted decisively, launching our own thorough and comprehensive investigation and referring the matter to the Metropolitan Police.”

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