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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Century 21 owners use new funds to buy into mortgage company

Shepherd Direct, the UK operator of Century 21 estate agency franchises, has bought a minority stake in Stonebridge Group, the mortgage and protection provider. 

There are already mortgage selling facilities within the Century 21 operation but says the investment - of an undisclosed amount - will allow Stonebridge to increase its foothold in the mortgage market.

"The operations of both groups overlap without competing and by working together we will be able to secure additional benefits and operating efficiencies. The financial stability and logistical support provided by Shepherd Direct will enable us to further develop our already market-leading proposition in order that we are able to continue the significant growth we have achieved over the past two years" says a spokesman.

The investment in Stonebridge has come from a £10m investment into Shepherd Direct from BGF, the Business Growth Fund, which provides capital for small and mid-sized. It will become a minority equity partner in Shepherd Direct. 

Century 21 already has 49 offices across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Most offices have ancillary services such as conveyancing, mortgage advice and surveys via the Shepherd Direct Group

Century 21 began in the US and claims to be the world's largest residential agency with some 7,000 franchise offices and over 90,000 agents in 77 countries. It is part of a group including the well-known US realtor brand Coldwell Banker, and Sotheby's International Realty, which has a UK office in Mayfair.

Two and a half years ago Shepherd Direct acquired the licence to operate the Century 21 sales and lettings brand across the UK and Channel Islands; its headquarters are in Scotland and central support services for franchisees are based in Nottingham.

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