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Countrywide estate agents receives In takeover bid

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Countrywide, the UK’s largest listed estate agent has received a £82m provisional takeover bid from rival Connells.

Countrywide, which has over 700 branches and owns Hamptons International, had been planning a loan re-structuring that would have raised £90m via a deal with a private equity firm and substantial share issue. Its share price had been weak since the Coronavirus pandemic kicked in.   

Connells, which is smaller with under 200 branches, is owned by Skipton Building Society. This means any purchase would bring Countryside back into private hands.

Connells made its original approach to at the end of  October and has since been conducting due diligence checks before confirming its offer. It has until 7 December to do this.

Connells has indicated it believes Countrywide needs new capital to reduce its debt exposure and an influx of new management with real estate expertise. It said it would face an enormous task in turning around a business that has lost over £500m over the last three years and has flirted with administration.

Countrywide’s shares rose in value on news of the takeover talks.