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Ousted Persimmon boss sets up new venture with his wife

<span>Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA</span>
Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

The former chief executive of the housebuilder Persimmon who landed one of the biggest bonuses in British corporate history has set up a new venture with his wife.

Jeff Fairburn, who was ousted from Persimmon after protests at his bumper £82m bonus in 2018, has set up an investment company with his wife, Jayne, the Guardian can reveal.

Fairburn registered Third Stone Investments, a private company located in Durham, north-east England, last week. He and his wife, whose occupation is listed as “home keeper”, are the only directors.

The filing at Companies House does not detail the company’s specific activities but it is registered as a “credit granting” business under a company code usually ascribed to industrial finance firms or banks outside the mainstream UK banking system.

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Jayne Fairburn is listed as a director of three other companies: a pubs business called J4 Leisure; J4 Holidays, a holiday lettings in the seaside town of Filey, North Yorkshire; and a property firm, Third Stone Properties.

In the year after he was forced out of Persimmon, Fairburn handed his wife more than £13m in shares in the company. The new venture could represent his latest attempt at rehabilitating his corporate image.

Fairburn has kept a relatively low profile since the storm over his bonus, which he received as the taxpayer-funded help-to-buy scheme buoyed Persimmon’s profits and which was labelled “excessive and unearned”.

The mammoth payout had been reduced from £110m after an investor revolt and his profile was damaged when Fairburn walked away from questions over his payout during an interview.

The tycoon, who has been dubbed Moneybags, made a comeback in January 2020, when he was appointed chief executive of the housebuilder Berkeley DeVeer after buying a 50% stake in the firm.

Then, in 2021, Fairburn teamed up with the powerful activist investor Elliott to acquire the northern builder Avant Homes, becoming chair in the process.

Avant was in the spotlight last week after a man in Derbyshire attached a huge banner on the front of his house attacking the developer, stating “don’t make the mistake we made”.

Balbinder Singh of Mickleover near Derby claims Avant has not completed work on his home nearly two years after moving in and that the company had stopped responding to him. Avant has said a “significant number” of the concerns over Singh’s home arose from the building of an extension after the house was bought.

Fairburn has also been dogged by controversy over whether he followed through on a promise to give away a “substantial” amount of the windfall through a charitable trust.

He has previously said he has set up a trust but has not publicly stated the name, its activities or the amount he has donated. The Charity Commission has said that no such charity has been set up in Fairburn’s name.

Fairburn declined to comment on the formation of Third Stone Investments. A spokesperson said Fairburn had set up a private trust through a donor-advised fund – a vehicle designed to manage donations for organisations and individuals – in 2018 and had been making donations through it since.

They added that Fairburn’s charitable donations were “a private matter for him and his family”.