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U.K. builders Countryside Partnerships, Vistry near $3.2 billion merger deal -WSJ

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(Reuters) -British builders Countryside Partnerships and Vistry Group are nearing a deal to form a $3.2 billion residential developer, suggesting a win for U.S.-based activist fund Browning West, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The deal, in which Vistry is expected to pay mostly stock for its counterpart, could be announced as soon as this coming week, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Countryside, Vistry Group and Browning West did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment outside business hours.

In June, Browning West - Countryside's largest shareholder - urged the board to conduct a strategic review of the group, saying it would perform better privately owned or as part of a larger business after board actions led to a "significant destruction of shareholder value".

Countryside later said it was putting itself up for sale as pressure from shareholders mounted after it turned down a $1.9-billion bid from San-Francisco based investor Inclusive Capital.

The London-listed firm suffered a senior management shake-up after its boss stepped down earlier this year. In April, it warned of lower annual profit after a business review flagged several issues, including costly expansions and manufacturing losses, sending its stock prices to a five-year low.

(Reporting by Shivani Tanna in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Porter and Tom Hogue)