The Financial Times this morning says that Countrywide suffered a failed bond issue earlier this year, forcing it to rely on an emergency equity raising to shore up its balance sheet.
The newspaper says: “Two people briefed on the situation said Countrywide, until recently the UK’s largest estate agency group by branches, tried in May to issue £250m of high-yield bonds. Through its lenders - HSBC, Barclays and Santander - the group approached investors to raise a five-year bond at an interest rate of about 8 per cent, but prospective buyers said they would require at least 9 per cent, one person said. The bond aimed to pay off a revolving credit facility of which the company had drawn down £210m by the end of 2017. It would also have added to the cash on Countrywide’s balance sheet.”
A long-term share value slide (down 90 per cent over five years) means Countrywide has a maket capitalisation of some £120m but debt of around £200m.