Optivo and Southern Housing Group merger approved


03 October 2022


The boards of Optivo and Southern Housing Group have approved proposals to merge and create a new 77,000 home social landlord.

The new organisation will be named Southern Housing and the target date for formal completion is early 2023.

Discussions about a potential merger began in March this year before being subject to due diligence and successful negotiations. An engagement programme also followed to give residents, staff and external partners an opportunity to feed into the detailed discussions.

Optivo and Southern Housing Group work alongside each other in many of the same communities. By coming together, the merger aims to create an organisation that’s big but local – rooted in key communities, with the scale to have a greater impact. In challenging times, the merger will build a strong and resilient organisation focused on delivering excellent resident services.

Paul Hackett CBE, chief executive designate of Southern Housing, said:

“I’m delighted both boards have approved the merger proposals and we now look forward to combining forces next year. This merger isn’t about growing into a large national organisation; it’s about doing what we do better in the communities we already work in. Residents will be at the heart of our services, and we’ll use our size to influence positive change in the areas where we operate.”

Sir Peter Dixon, chair designate of Southern Housing, said:

“We believe in these very challenging economic times, we will be more financially resilient by joining forces. This will enable us to continue to develop new homes and meet sustainability commitments. Our history stretches back to the early 20th century, but our social purpose of helping those with a housing need remains today.”

Having reached the stage where the creation of the new organisation has been agreed, Alan Townshend CEO of Southern Housing Group announced that he will be stepping down following the successful completion of the merger.

Explaining his decision, Alan Townshend said:

“I am proud of getting us to the stage where the agreement to merge has been approved by both Boards, however having reached this point the time is right for me to step aside and let others take the reins of the new organisation. I know Paul has a great team alongside him that are committed to delivering on our promise of great local services and I will be fully involved in guiding the day one integration process over the next few months before moving on.”

Paul Hackett added: “I’m very sorry to see Alan go but understand his reasons for wanting to move on at this stage. We’ve shared a vision of what the new organisation should look like from our very first conversation together and his drive, knowledge and leadership will be missed. Alan has a wealth of experience and I'm pleased he's agreed to remain in post until we merge.”

Changes to the new Executive Team at Southern Housing will be announced shortly.