Pulte will now become the United States largest homebuilder after it completes it purchase of rival Centex Corp. The $1.3 billion deal combines two out of the three giant homebuilders in the Raleigh-Durham area, the companies announced April 7. According to Triangle Business Journal’s 2009 Book of Lists, the Dallas-based Centex ranks second and Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Pulte is third among the top residential builders in the Raleigh-Durham (North Carolina) market.

Pulte will take on Centex’s debt of $1.8 billion. The all-stock transaction will create the nation’s largest homebuilder.

“Combining these two industry leaders with proud legacies into one company puts us in an excellent position to navigate through the current housing downturn, poised to accelerate our return to profitability,” said Richard J. Dugas Jr., Pulte president and CEO, in a statement. “Centex’s significant presence in the entry level and move-up categories is complemented by Pulte’s strength in both the move-up and active adult segments, the latter through our popular Del Webb brand.”

Dugas Jr. said the acquisition will give the company presence in more than 59 markets in the country.

Pulte shareholders will own approximately 68 percent of the combined company, and Centex shareholders will own approximately 32 percent after the transaction is complete.

The combined company will carry on with the Pulte name and be based in Bloomfield Hills, but the firms said a large presence will be maintained in Dallas. Dugas will assume the positions of chairman, president and CEO of the combined company. Centex CEO Timothy Eller will join on the expanding Pulte board.