Countrywide shares tumble as investors cash in £200m shares

Kasmira Jefford
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COUNTRYWIDE’S private equity backers Oaktree and Apollo sold £200m worth of shares in the estate agents yesterday, cashing in on the revival in the UK housing sector.
The group saw shares fall 4.5 per cent last night following the share placing, which saw Oaktree and Apollo whittle down their shareholding in the company by 16 per cent to 38.4 per cent.
A person close to the deal said the shares had been sold at 570p each, a 4.5 per cent discount to Tuesday’s closing price of 597p, raising £199.5m for the sellers.
Chief financial officer Jim Clarke said they decided to shorten the initial six month lock-up from the time of the initial public offering before investors could sell shares, because of demand for the stock.
“The last two or three months we have seen a lot of positive data on the housing market after five and a half years in the doldrums. We have had a lot of existing and new investors wanting to buy into the company but who have not been able to,” he told City A.M.
Shares have risen by over 60 per cent since its float in March.
Jefferies acted as joint bookrunner on the placing of the shares for Countrywide alongside both Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs. Paul Nicholls, who is both chairman and head of corporate broking at Jefferies, led the team. Nicholls joined the firm at the start of last year when it took over stockbroker Hoare Govett, where he had been chief executive since 2006. Nicholls is a familiar name for Countrywide having already worked on the estate agency’s successful return to the London Stock Exchange in March.
Nicholls was joined by Simon Hampton, managing director and European head of real estate gaming and lodging investment banking, at Jefferies. He has been at Jefferies for almost three years and most recently acted for Thomas Cook on its £1.6bn capital restructuring in May. He also acted for investment firm Starwood Capital on the £228m float of its European commercial mortgage vehicle.
Robert Foster, European head of consumer & retail, completed the Jefferies team.