Tuesday 16 February 2021 6:57 am

Countrywide shareholders approve £223m Connells takeover

Shareholders of estate agent chain Countrywide last night approved a takeover offer from rival firm Connells, valuing the company at around £223.1m.

Countrywide, which owns high street estate agent brands including Bairstow Eves and Hamptons, said 99.58 per cent of scheme shares backed the proposals, while just 0.42 per cent opposed the deal.

In December Countrywide’s board accepted Connells’ sweetened buyout proposal after the firm raised its offer for the second time, outbidding private equity firm Alchemy.

The offer of 395 pence per share, revised from the initial proposal of 250 pence a share, gave the British company an enterprise value of about £223.1m.

“We have been encouraged by their (Connells’) recognition of the need to put in place a sustainable capital structure and a willingness to support the company, which is a great business that has been constrained by too much debt,” Countrywide’s acting non-executive chairman, David Watson, said in December.

Countrywide, which had previously rejected Connells’ initial approach, has been struggling to recover from a botched 2015 restructuring that led to several profit warnings and a deeply discounted share issue.

Bedfordshire-based Connells later raised the bid to 325 pence per share, prompting Countrywide to evaluate the offer.

Alchemy had earlier approached Countrywide with an offer for its existing investors to sell their shares at 250 pence apiece and a £70m recapitalisation plan.