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22 Oct 2020

Response to Countrywide’s 22/10/20 announcement

Catalist Partners notes Countrywide’s announcement this morning. As one of the Company’s largest shareholders, Catalist strongly opposes this unnecessary, ill-judged and dilutive transaction which, while clearly a very attractive deal for Alchemy, is destructive for shareholders and only serves to fund the continuation of a flawed 'back to basics' business plan.

Catlist rejects Countrywide investment proposal - Estate Agent Today

23 Oct 2020

Alistair Osborne

The Times - Long game a loser for Countrywide

Proof, at last, that Peter Long has learnt something about estate agency: “Today’s news marks an exciting new chapter in the evolution of Countrywide.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. What will the company’s executive chairman come up with next? Describe a cupboard as a double room?

Get inside the house and here’s what his new chapter really looks like: a £90 million cash injection underwritten by Alchemy, plus tender offer, that’ll hand the private equity firm up to 67.7 per cent of the group. And at a discount, to boot. In short, a deal to dilute the hell out of existing shareholder. Little wonder that 10.5 per cent investor Catalist Partners is fuming.

Continue reading on thetimes.co.uk

23 Oct 2020

Ben Marlow

The Telegraph - Estate agent's firmer footing

If there's one thing that the property industry doesn't lack, it is optimism. With the foundations wobbling at Countrywide, the estate agent has panicked, agreeing to a £90m rescue cash injection from shareholder Alchemy and £75m of new borrowings that it believes will miraculously transform its fortunes. It could certainly do with some help.

Pre-tax losses in the first six months of the year have widened to £49m from £41m; turnover is down by a quarter to £172m; one-off costs have leapt to £52m; and cash is dwindling at a rapid rate. But this isn't simply a Covid-inspired downturn. The company has been struggling for years. And it seems like a strange moment to fold when the Chancellor's stamp duty holiday, along with an exodus to the 'burbs, has triggered a mini-housing boom since the half-year ended.

Countrywide says it is "in urgent need of recapitalisation", but a £50m debt repayment is being cancelled out by £75m of new loans. Incoming chairman Carl Leaver is focused firmly on the positives. "A very bright future" awaits if the deal goes through, he says. Yet, the price of this salvage act is a single shareholder calling the shots with somewhere between 50pc and 68pc of the shares and dilution for the rest. Catalist, holder of a 10.5pc stake, has already objected to what it calls an "ill-judged transaction". It surely won't be alone.

The Telegraph

22 Oct 2020

Jessica Clark

City AM - Countrywide shareholder to oppose £90m lifeline from private equity investor

Estate agent chain Countrywide (LON: CWD) has secured a £90m lifeline from private equity firm Alchemy in an “urgent” bid to reduce debt, however a significant shareholder is planning to oppose the deal.

The firm, which owns Bairstow Eves and Hamptons International, said it is at a “critical inflection point” and is in “urgent need of recapitalisation to reduce its net debt and lessen its exposure to its lenders”.

Shares dived more than 11 per cent as Countrywide also said it is burdened by excessive debt, and requires a resilient balance sheet due to the weak macroeconomic outlook. The firm will also receive a £70m loan from its lenders following the capital raising, it said.

However, investor Catalist Partners, which owns a 10.5 per cent stake in the firm, said it is planning to vote against the proposals, claiming the deal would be “destructive for shareholders”.

Continue reading on cityam.comk

23 Oct 2020

Lucy White

Daily Mail - Countrywide investors clash over estate agent's planned rescue by private equity firm

Britain's biggest estate agency is at the centre of a furious row as shareholders clash over its future.

Countrywide said private equity firm Alchemy Partners was planning to hand it a £90million lifeline.

The deal would give Alchemy a stake of between 50.1 per cent and 67.7 per cent and see Countrywide executive chairman Peter Long replaced.

But activist investment firm Catalist Partners, which has a 10.5 per cent stake in Countrywide, branded the plan – which will see existing shareholders' stakes drastically watered down – 'ill-judged' and 'unnecessary'.

Continue reading on dailymail.co.uk

23 Oct 2020

Samantha McClary

Estates Gazette - What’s going on at LSH-owner Countrywide?

When one statement says a company is committed to selling a business it put up for sale almost a year ago and another – released just seconds apart – outlines how there are plans to grow the business, it is no wonder that shareholders have been left somewhat bewildered and angry. Lambert Smith Hampton owner Countrywide has been trying to offload the commercial agency since 27 December 2019. There has been one aborted attempt and discussions with another potential buyer are understood to be ongoing.

Continue reading on egi.co.uk

19 Aug 2020

Letter to Countrywide Plc

View the letter (PDF,130kb)
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