The boards of social landlords Optivo and Southern Housing Group have agreed to start discussions about a potential merger, which would lead to the creation of a new 77,000-home organisation.

Under proposals agreed yesterday, the new social landlord would be called Southern Housing and its key leaders would be:

  • Chair designate: Sir Peter Dixon, current chair of Optivo and former chair of the Housing Corporation. A vice chair will be appointed from the Southern Housing Group Board
  • Chief Executive designate: Paul Hackett CBE, current chief executive of Optivo
  • Deputy Chief Executive designate: Alan Townshend, current chief executive of Southern Housing Group

By coming together, Optivo and Southern Housing Group say they could build a strong and resilient organisation focused on delivering excellent resident services.

An engagement programme will be launched to give residents, staff and external partners an opportunity to feed into the detailed discussions.

Subject to due diligence and successful negotiations, Optivo and Southern Housing Group hope to complete the merger by December 2022.

Paul Hackett said: “By joining forces, we can create an organisation with the strength to deliver for residents through these increasingly challenging times. We’re bringing together two associations with proud histories to create a combined organisation that’s fit for the future.”

Alan Townshend said: “As Optivo and Southern have worked alongside each other in many of the same communities, merger gives us the opportunity to unify our work. We’ll be big but local, deepening our ties to the areas we work in. This will bring real benefits to our residents, our colleagues and our external partners.”

Sir Peter Dixon said: “This is a different type of merger, focused on impact rather than expansion. The combined scale of the new organisation in the communities we operate in, will enable us to work with our residents to make a real difference.”