The final acts of the drama that has been Connells’ purchase of Countrywide are to take place on 15th February in London when Countrywide’s shareholders will be asked to vote on the Connells offer.
Countrywide’s directors and board have unanimously backed the deal and recommended it to shareholders.
On the same day, assuming enough shareholders approve it, two days later Countrywide will be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange and all its share capital bought by Connells for its improved £3.95p a share offer price.
This is just over double Countrywide’s share price of £1.45p when Connells first made its first offer and will cost Connells £134 million and implies a value of £223 million for Countrywide.
A letter from its chairman David Watson (picture) to shareholders strongly recommends the deal, which already has the backing of a majority of institutional shareholders but will need votes relating to 75% of the shares to go through.
Earlier this month Connells purchased the shares of one major shareholder, Schroders, further sealing the likelihood of a takeover deal.
Connells has confirmed that once shareholder permission has been secured, the takeover will complete by the end of March.
The acquisition is to be implemented by means of a Court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement between Countrywide and its shareholders, under Part 26 of the Companies Act.
The vote will not be in person due to Covid and instead they can either send in forms or vote online.
Watson has today also moved to reassure its staff, saying: “Whilst the Countrywide Board recognises that Connells has identified certain duplicated costs across some head office and/or centralised administration functions, which could result in some headcount reductions, the Countrywide Board is pleased to note that Connells intends to maintain and enhance Countrywide’s current service offering.
“[This will including investing] in its branches, technology and people and does not anticipate making any material changes to the locations or functions of Countrywide’s branch network.
“The Countrywide Board is also pleased to note Connells’ confirmation that, following the completion of the Acquisition, the existing contractual and statutory employment rights, including in relation to pensions, of all Countrywide employees will be fully safeguarded in accordance with applicable laws.”