German media giant Axel Springer has doubled its holdings in Purplebricks and now owns over a quarter of the hybrid agency’s stock.
The Berlin-based company has paid £43.66 million for the shares in a private deal that appears to include the company buying the remaining 11% stake co-founder Michael Bruce and his wife Isabel held in the company. This is estimated to be worth £33.7 million.
Former CEO Bruce (left) exited the company earlier this month on the same day it was announced Purplebricks was to exit the Australian property market and planned to review its cash-devouring US operation.
The news that Axel Springer had increased its share in Purplebricks helped give the hybrid estate agency’s stock a significant boost yesterday, rising from 95p a share at the start of the day to £1.06p at end of play, a 11.5% rise.
Speculation is rife in the City that Axel Springer is just one of several organisations circling the embattled agency at the moment, including as The Negotiator revealed recently, US equity fund Francisco Partners.
And Toscafund, a UK investment house which is currently involved in a takeover bid for easyProperty’s parent company eProp, also recently hoovered up several million Purplebricks shares.
The bid comes at an unusual point for Axel Springer, which is one of Europe’s largest magazine and newspaper publishers including its largest-circulation daily tabloid, Das Bild.
The company is itself in talks with an equity fund to take the firm out of public ownership and return it to private holdings.