Connells ups Countrywide offer to £112m

PA

The board of Countrywide has said it is considering a new offer from its rival Connells, which upped the price it was willing to pay for the troubled estate agent.

Connells made a firm offer of 325p per share of Countrywide, meaning a deal would be worth around £112 million.

Last week Countrywide rebuffed an offer of 250p per share from its rival agent.

But on Monday the troubled company’s board said it would “evaluate the merits” of the new firm offer from Connells.

Countrywide has been struggling under a £90.2 million pile of debt, and is looking for a solution.

“Countrywide desperately needs a deliverable solution to its current financial problems and lack of strategic direction,” said Connells chief executive David Livesey.

“Putting Countrywide back on track requires sustained investment and gritty operational improvement over many years.”

Countrywide’s shares soared by 18% after Mr Livesey’s business revealed its new offer.

However, they are still trading at only 300p each, well below the price that Connells has offered to pay, indicating that investors may not believe the offer will come to pass.

Countrywide said it is still looking at “all other available options”, which includes a plan unveiled by private equity company Alchemy, announced last week.

That deal would see Alchemy inject £70 million into the business, while taking a controlling stake of more than 50%.

Countrywide said it was also looking at other options, including raising capital from existing shareholders.

Mr Livesey added: “Although we have approached the Countrywide board to seek its recommendation of our offer, we think it is in the interests of everyone for us to announce our offer today so that all of Countrywide’s shareholders are aware of the compelling nature of our proposal.”

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