Various investors in Countrywide have submitted early online paperwork to The Panel on Takeovers and Mergers - the red tape required to progress possible takeover talks between Connells and Countrywide, revealed for the first time on Monday morning.
The Panel for Takeovers and Mergers is an independent body charged with ensuring fair treatment for shareholders; it administers the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers - a binding set of rules applying to all companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Connells is not listed on the London Stock Exchange so the paperwork filed so far all relates to the Countrywide side, and comes from investors including Oaktree Capital Management, Brandes Investment Partners, Schroders PLC, Norges Bank and others.
They each filed a Form 8.3 indicating that they were shareholders in Countrywide with a share of 1.0 per cent or more of the company.
This bureaucracy is a standard part of a possible takeover, and does not in itself confirm that a bid is being made for Countrywide.
Connells operates some 25 brands with 600 offices, including Allen & Harris, Bagshaws Residential, Fox & Sons, and Barnard Marcus in London. Countrywide has some 50 brands, still operating around 725 offices despite many branch closures in recent months.
Countrywide has given Connells until 5pm on December 7 to announce a firm intention to make an offer for the company, or not.