Tuesday, September 21, 2021
International

Countrywide accepts £130m takeover offer from Connells

Countrywide

The deal brings together Countrywide’s 60 high street brands, with Connells’ 25 brands

The estate agency group Connells has struck an agreed offer for Hamptons International owner Countrywide after raising its bid to £130m.

The boards of Connells, part of Skipton Building Society, and Countrywide, the UK’s biggest listed estate agency group, said they had agreed terms of a recommended cash offer at 395p a share. Connells made an initial offer of 250p a share in early November and raised this to 325p a share a month later.

The deal brings together Countrywide’s 60 well-known high street brands, including Gascoigne-Pees, Bairstow Eves and King & Chasemore, with Connells’ 25 brands – Allen & Harris, Bagshaws Residential, Fox & Sons, and Barnard Marcus in London. Countrywide has 651 branches while the Connells group has 581.

Connells said it had won support from holders of 51.03% of Countrywide shares. The deal is expected to complete in the first three months of 2021.

It scuppers a rival move made by the UK private equity firm Alchemy, which proposed a £90m cash injection into Countrywide in October in return for a controlling stake, and had the support of, Peter Long, Countrywide’s executive chairman. Long quit in late November after opposition from shareholders to the plan.

All of Countrywide’s lenders will be repaid in full, said Connells, pledging to invest in the group’s technology, branch network and staff to turn the business around. After years of mounting losses, Countrywide has been struggling under debts of £91.9m and has been closing branches.

Connells said there would be some job losses as the two head offices are merged, but not in the branches.

The offer is far below Countrywide’s £750m valuation when it floated on the stock market in March 2013 amid a buoyant property market.

David Livesey, Connells’ chief executive, said: We have the right management team, strategy and investment firepower to work with the talented teams at Countrywide and lead Countrywide into a bright future.

The agreed deal comes eight months after LSL Property Services, which owns Your Move, abandoned a planned all-share merger with Countrywide.

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