Countrywide shares rocket in spectacular stock market return

SHARES in estate agent Countrywide yesterday surged 13 per cent to 397p in a spectacular return to the London stock market after a six year absence.

Analysts said the strong debut for the shares – which listed at a top-of-the-range 350p in their initial public offering (IPO) – was driven by investors who had failed to get shares in the multiple-times oversubscribed offering, as well as successful buyers topping up their holdings.

Countrywide, the UK’s largest estate agent whose brands include Hamptons International and Bairstow Eves, made £200m through its float valuing the firm overall at £750m.

Countrywide’s private equity owners Oaktree Capital, Apollo Global and Alchemy did not reduce their stakes through the offering and have agreed not to sell any shares for the next six months.

The 27-year-old firm was previously listed between 1986 and 2007, before Apollo Global took it over for £1.1bn at the height of the UK’s property market boom.

It is now majority owned by Oaktree following a debt-for-equity swap in 2009.