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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Countrywide takeover? Mystery firm considering a move, says report

A media report suggests a mystery ‘predator’ is attempting to acquire Countrywide. 

The Daily Mail this morning, quoting unnamed “City sources,” says a potential buyer is considering making an offer for the troubled agency group.

So far no other media source is reporting the move but the Mail says a takeover bid for Countrywide would probably have to be aimed at 10p a share or more to attract support from the company.

10p was the price offered last year when the firm raised £129m through institutional investors in its latest bid to reduce debts.

Countrywide’s share price closed at 4.7p on Friday. 

In its most recent trading statement at the end of July, Countrywide announced it had reached a new covenant package with lenders to give the company support “to execute the turnaround plan” it started in 2018.

In the statement Countrywide revealed it had cut pre-tax losses with a declared statutory loss of £37.7m (down from £206.4m a year ago) and - the most optimistic piece of news in the statement - there was an operating profit of £10m for the six months to the end of June. 

However, many other figures were again bleak.

Warning of a weak market overall, Countrywide’s group income declined 4.0 per cent to £290.6m (2018: £302.9m), with sales and lettings also bringing in 4.0 per cent less income - some £157.85m. The agency’s total of residential exchanges were down slightly to 21,624 (2018: 22,026).

On sales the statement said: “Total income for H1 2019 declined £4.5 million, down six per cent year on year. Adjusting for the effect of closed branches, estate agency was three per cent down year on year. There was a good performance in our UK estate agency business which was down two per cent year on year compared with the 23 per cent decline in H1 2018.”

The company recently concluded a branch closure programme; no official figures were released but one informed estimate suggested 250 offices were shut.

You can see this morning’s Daily Mail story here.

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