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.

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