Cash-strapped Countrywide has this morning announced that it is selling its commercial business, Lambert Smith Hampton, for £38m.
In a surprise statement - after Countrywide insisted many times in recent years that none of its divisions would be sold - this morning the company described LSH as "non-core” and said the cash from the sale would “significantly improve Countrywide's capital structure following receipt of gross cash proceeds of £38 million and allow the Countrywide Group to materially reduce its net debt.”
In addition to the sale agreement of Lambert Smith Hampton and a share consolidation process, Countrywide has revealed that it has this week agreed an amended credit facility with its lenders.
"The new facility provides the group with the financial flexibility to execute the turnaround plan while operating in what continues to be a challenging and uncertain market environment" says the company.
"The sale of the Lambert Smith Hampton commercial business strengthens the group. Once completed, we believe that the group will be in a more advantageous position in our core residential market. The Group remains on course to deliver a full year result in line with the board's expectations" says executiver chairman Peter Long.
LSH is one of Britain's oldest and most respected commercial properties names, founded in 1773 but only a part of Countrywide since 2013. At that time Countrywide paid £34.1m in cash for LSH which has 33 offices and 1,400 employees; today’s sale is for £38m cash, to a private buyer.
It’s been purchased by John Bengt Moeller who owns Great Global Holdings, a US-based retail-focused property empire.
Meanwhile Countrywide has named Polly Ogden Duffy as managing director of the company’s up-market John D Wood & Co brand.
She takes up the position formally on January 1.
For much of this year Duffy - previously a regional manager at the agency, responsible for part of London - has taken joint responsibility for leading the business with another regional manager, Jonny Dyson, following the death of John D Wood veteran Nick Taylor in the spring.
In a statement to Estate Agent Today Paul Chapman, Countrywide’s managing director of sales and lettings, says: “I am delighted that Polly will lead John D Wood & Co with continued support of Jonny Dyson and the leadership team. We wish Polly and the team every success in her new role.”