Like doting parents of teenagers who have spent their allowance and keep coming back for more, shareholders have so far been extraordinarily forgiving when stumping up cash to bail British companies out of debt. At some point, however, they will lose their patience and say "no".

Housebuilders Barratt and Redrow are the latest to raise cash from shareholders via heavily discounted rights issues, joining a long list of companies who have gone cap in hand to investors for sums of more than 100 million pounds ($163.4 million) since the start of the year.

For now at least, everyone can feel good about the result. A rising stock market since March means shareholders can say they did the right thing in giving companies the cash needed to pay down debt, defend their credit ratings or write down previous corporate follies.

Like others before them, Barratt and Redrow say they'll use the 545.5 million pounds and 156 million pounds they are raising to strengthen their respective balance sheets.

Companies have few avenues open to them to raise new funding now that banks have largely turned off the tap. The most creditworthy companies have tapped the bond markets, but others have no real option other than to turn to shareholders.