One of Countrywide’s largest shareholders has come out against a £90m investment package in the company proposed by a private equity firm.
Early today Countrywide group announced a £90m investment by Alchemy Partners, a private equity company that specialises in investing in distressed and undervalued or underperforming businesses.
But now Catalist Partners has issued a statement saying: "Catalist Partners notes Countrywide’s announcement this morning. As one of the Company’s largest shareholders, Catalist strongly opposes this unnecessary, ill-judged and dilutive transaction which, while clearly a very attractive deal for Alchemy, is destructive for shareholders and only serves to fund the continuation of a flawed 'back to basics' business plan.”
Catalist Partners has around 10 per cent of Countrywide’s shares; it is led by agency industry veteran Robin Paterson who was an influential figure behind Hamptons International and Barnard Marcus in the 1990s.
'Back to Basics' was the name given to a business initiative started two years ago by executive chairman Peter Long and de facto chief executive Paul Creffield, aimed at increasing investment in Countrywide's traditional branch structure.
Both Long and Creffield are to step down as a condition of the Alchemy proposal, which has to be agreed by shareholders before it can go ahead.
You can see more details of the Alchemy offer here.
This now looks very much like a battle for the future ownership of Countrywide; you can see an earlier letter outlining Catalist's proposals for the company here.