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by CareyBot

Pulte Homes Inc. and Centex Corp. say a planned $3.1 billion merger will make the combined companies the nation's largest home builder with the strongest cash position in the industry.The merger -- already approved by both companies' boards of directors -- will create a single company with $3.4 billion in cash and $1.8 billion in net debt. The companies together closed 39,000 sales in 2008, with revenue of $11.6 billion.Fitch Ratings affirmed Pulte's debt ratings, and said it was prepared to raise ratings on Centex's unsecured debt because the company will benefit from the merger.The combined company -- to be known as Pulte, and headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. -- will "have a strong liquidity position, a more diversified product line, an expanded market presence in top market...