All eyes are on Agents’ Mutual’s first day of trading on the London stock exchange - just over five years after the company was first formed.
The company launched a new website overnight, aggressively arguing against the costs and dominance of both Rightmove and Zoopla.
Shares opened at 165p following the lower-than-expected valuation of the company leading up to today’s IPO. Only £30m was raised instead of Agents’ Mutual’s professed target of £50m.
After an hour and a quarter opening the price had dropped around seven per cent.
Although the most recent statement from Agents’ Mutual portal, OnTheMarket, says it has only 5,500 branches on board, it promises “an active recruitment campaign” to recruit more “at fair prices.”
Agents’ Mutual says the float “will enable us to implement our marketing plans to build brand awareness and portal usage as well as to invest to scale up the supporting organisation and infrastructure to the benefit of consumers, agents and investors.”
One estimate says Agents’ Mutual’s chief executive Ian Springett’s personal windfall from the IPO could be as high as £6.45m.
Agents Mutual was set up as a limited company in January 2013 by six high-end agencies - Savills, Knight Frank, Chestertons, Strutt & Parker and London companies Douglas & Gordon and Glentree Estates.
Early supporters amongst independent agents provided loan note subscriptions and agreed to commit to list with the Agents’ Mutual portal once it went live. In July 2014 the portal’s identity - OnTheMarket - was revealed.
The portal launched in January 2015 with listings from 4,600 branches - only 900 to 1,400 branches fewer than it claimed in statements in recent weeks, some 36 months later.
Chief executive Ian Springett stated his ambition was for OTM to become the number two portal to Rightmove within one year, displacing Zoopla - the portal which almost all early supporters of OTM dropped in order to abide by the infamous One Other Portal rule introduced by Agents’ Mutual.
After an acrimonious period of claim and counter-claim between AM and Zoopla’s parent company, ZPG, Agents’ Mutual won a notable victory in the summer of 2017 when the Competition Appeals Tribunal ruled the One Other Portal rule to be "objectively necessary to achieve the purpose of market entry".
However, to the surprise of some, Agents’ Mutual shortly afterwards declared its desire to drop its mutual status and launch on the London stock exchange’s junior platform, the Alternative Investment Market.
New joiners to OTM will no longer have to abide by the One Other Portal rule, although some original members serving out the duration of earlier agreements must still abide by it. Online agencies - once described by OTM chief executive Ian Springett as “parasites” - are also now entitled to list.