Mystery predator rumoured to be circling Britain’s biggest estate agent Countrywide

A mystery predator is said to be circling Britain’s biggest estate agent.

City sources said a potential buyer is weighing an offer for Countrywide, the company behind Hamptons International, John D Wood & Co. and Bairstow Eves.

Prior to floating on the stock market in 2013, Countrywide was owned by US private equity firms and hedge funds.

Potential buyer? City sources say a mystery predator is circling Britain's biggest estate agent, Countrywide - its brands include Bairstow Eves

Potential buyer? City sources say a mystery predator is circling Britain’s biggest estate agent, Countrywide – its brands include Bairstow Eves

Apollo, the Wall Street private equity titan led by Leon Black, paid £1 billion for Countrywide at the peak of the credit boom in 2007. 

Eighteen months later, the company’s lenders – which included US distressed debt fund Oaktree Capital – took control of the estate agent via a financial restructuring. 

They floated Countrywide at £3.50 a share six years ago, valuing the business at £750million.

The firm is now valued at just £78million, partly due to the tough times the industry has had since the referendum.

A takeover bid for Countrywide would be a huge ‘contrarian bet’ – a punt that the shares are priced too low and the market will recover.

The shares closed at 4.7p on Friday. Sources said an offer would have to be pitched at above 10p – the price offered last year when the firm raised £129 million from institutional investors to reduce its debts.

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Countrywide declined to comment.

 



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