Octavia Housing and Abri Group have announced they are exploring options to establish a formal partnership between the two organisations.
Asked if this means a merger is on the cards, a spokesperson indicated it’s too early to say at this stage.
“This announcement is being made early, before both parties have agreed a partnership business case, in the interests of transparency, to avoid speculation, and to provide reassurance about Octavia’s long-term future, and so we can listen to the views of tenants, staff and stakeholders,” the spokesperson added.
Stephen Jack, Octavia’s chair, said: “Today’s announcement is part of Octavia’s commitment to secure a better future for its residents and other customers, colleagues and stakeholders.
“The board believes that forging the right partnership is in the best long-term interests of Octavia as it will make it stronger financially, enable it to invest more in its customer and community offer, and protect the long-term provision of its 5,000 social and affordable homes in London for both current and future tenants.”
Octavia’s board chose Abri as its preferred potential partner after conducting a “robust analysis” and a competitive selection process coordinated by Savills. This involved considering a number of potential partners against strict criteria, it said.
Abri and Octavia have also agreed to collaborate from now on in a number of key business areas to increase the latter’s capacity during what is said will be a resource intensive period.
The organisation has history behind it, having been founded by Victorian philanthropist Octavia Hill in the 1860s.
Sandra Skeete, Octavia’s chief executive, said: “We chose Abri as our potential partner because it shares our purpose and values, is committed to protecting Octavia Hill’s legacy and to maintaining a strong, local presence in London.
“We will listen carefully to the views of our residents and other customers before making a final decision on partnership, which would also be subject to the necessary regulatory and financial consents.”
Wayne Morris, Abri’s group chair, said: “We were pleased to be given the opportunity to develop a potential partnership with Octavia. We have enormous respect for their 150-year heritage. Given our adjoining geographies and shared ambition, the partnership offers a potentially strong strategic fit.
“The deal could unlock greater investment in housing and support services, as well as protect the long-term provision of some 5,000 social and affordable homes in London.”
Gary Orr, Abri’s group chief executive, added: “Abri is about leveraging the benefits of scale while delivering services through accountable local teams.
“When Octavia invited us to be part of discussions about their future, we were attracted to the opportunity to support an organisation that is so important to the housing profession as we navigate the new regulatory framework, has a common purpose that prioritises the needs of existing and future customers, and offers potential synergy within our regional operating model.
“Joining forces has the potential to create a new vision for an even stronger organisation to carry forward Octavia Hill’s legacy. More work needs to be done, but we are excited about the prospect of a long-term partnership with Octavia Housing.”
Image credit: Portrait Image Asia/Shutterstock
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