The roadshow of presentations of Agents’ Mutual’s plans to float on the stock market have just passed the half-way mark.
Remaining sessions are scheduled today at Swansea and Exeter, and then next week in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich, Brighton and Bournemouth.
Reports from agents attending the sessions in the first half of the roadshow itinerary suggest most debate so far has centred on:
- concern over the loss of the mutual status and the U-turn from many of the ‘agency ownership’ ideals of the original Agents’ Mutual ambitions;
- the absence of what some OnTheMarket agency members see as any unique selling point compelling the public to visit the site;
- the proposal to allow online estate agencies to list on OTM post-float, especially in the light of anti-online agency sentiments expressed in the past by leading figures;
- why substantial sums were spent defending the One Other Portal Only rule in the lengthy Competition Appeals Tribunal case, only for it shortly afterwards to be cited as a rule to be abandoned if Agents’ Mutual floats;
- whether member agents would be expected to pay increasing fees, or one-off supplementary fees, to fund additional advertising if Rightmove and Zoopla significantly increased their marketing budgets post-OTM float;
- allegations regarding some board members making significant gains from shares if Agents’ Mutual floated;
- whether the float process, if agreed, could be delayed by Agents’ Mutual action against current agent members considered to be in breach of their existing listings agreements;
- the possibility of flexibility on the issue of agents being obliged to enter into five year listings agreements, until 2022, with a floated OTM;
- what would happen if a majority supported the float of Agents’ Mutual but this fell short of the 75 per cent required for the decision to be carried out;
- whether there are additional controls to prevent unreasonable increases in agents’ fees, which will range from £192 to £595 if the float happens.
Agents have been told that a high turnout of OnTheMarket’s 2,700 or so members - if they approve the proposal - will be important in encouraging future investors.
Member agents regarded as being in breach of their contracts have until August 30 to vote; proxy votes from other member agents must be in by the morning of September 4; and on September 6 there is a formal ‘Members Court’ meeting at which those present can vote and at which the result is likely to be known.