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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Countrywide shareholders back sell-off of commercial division

Countrywide's senior management has won overwhelming backing from shareholders for its strategy of selling its commercial arm and consoliating its shares.

Today's special general meeting of the agency group's shareholders - called, unusually, in the Christmas holiday period - backed the sell off of Lambert Smith Hampton with 99.97 per cent of shareholders in support.

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; the sale being discussed will be to John Bengt Moeller who owns Great Global Holdings, a US-based retail-focused property empire.

Today's vote means the sale can be completed on Tuesday, the final day of 2019.

The cash from the sale will “significantly improve Countrywide's capital structure following receipt of gross cash proceeds of £38m and allow the Countrywide Group to materially reduce its net debt” according to a statement made by the company last month.

There was also 99.97 per cent support for an additional motion put to the meeting, for a consolidation of Countrywide's existing shares; this is a procedure whereby a company reduces the number of its shares it is trading on the stock exchange.  

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