An investment manager who has a 7.8 per cent stake in Countrywide, is warning that the agency group may not survive in its current form.
Jeremy Hosking, who co-founded an investment portfolio management service and has a personal fortune estimated at £385m, has written to Countrywide chairman Peter Long with a radical proposal.
Hosking wants Countrywide to gift 15 per cent of the company’s shares to staff - roughly the equivalent of £600 each - to give them a stake in its future and confidence they would share in any performance improvement.
Hosking, quoted in the Sunday Times, says he wants Long to apply “maximum pressure” on the company’s remuneration committee to act on the proposal.
“We can see huge equity upside if all goes well. However ... we appreciate there are risks the company in its present form may not survive current challenges” Hosking wrote in his letter.
Countrywide’s long term decline in terms of market share and share price have been extensively chronicled, and have shown little sign of reversal under its current management after a turbulent period led by former chief executive Alison Platt.
Early this year the company admitted that the proposed sale of its commercial arm, Lambert Smith Hampton, had collapsed.
On Friday Countrywide’s share price closed at 115.7p giving it a market valuation of under £38m.
Today’s Sunday Times reports that the company declined to comment on the Jeremy Hosking proposal.