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Agencies & People

Countrywide’s sale of commercial arm LSH hits the buffers

Estate agency giant says Monaco buyer is having 'logistical' problems finding the £38 million agreed between the two parties.

Nigel Lewis

Countrywide has been forced to release a statement this morning revealing that its sale of commercial property arm Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) has hit the buffers.

The estate agency giant has revealed that the agreed sale of LSH which has already been approved by shareholders, will be delayed.

Countrywide’s company secretary Gareth Williams says its purchaser, Monaco-based entrepreneur John Bengt Moeller, is having difficulties raising the cash to make the purchase due to ‘logistical difficulties’ relating to the transfer of the cash.

The estate agency group says it has been reassured by Moeller that the money is ‘imminent’.

Shareholders approved the deal on 1st December, which revealed that Moeller is to pay £38 million for the 40-branch commercial property sales and management business, cash Countrywide desperately needs to reduce its debts and help secure a larger credit facility.

The deal also boosted confidence in the ailing estate agency giant. After the deal was announced its share price jumped by 14%, helped by comments from its chairman Peter Long that he wanted Countrywide to focus on its core residential business.

He said too much valuable management time had been spent on Lambert Smith Hampton within a challenging commercial market and that Countrywide had no ambitions to grow the consultancy. He also said that there was minimal crossover between Lambert Smith Hampton and its residential business.

February 7, 2020

One comment

  1. The creation of an annual tax on people who find themselves the owner of properties with a large price tag. Is that a good idea?

    Given that the idea was dreamed up over a decade ago by the Liberal Democrats, I wonder why it is rearing its head once more.

    Tinkering with stamp duty, taxation on property can seem a great idea, but as I have seen first hand it can have seismic consequences. In 1988, Nigel Lawson said it would be a good idea to limit mortgage relief at source but gave advance warning. This caused everyone in the UK to pair up and buy property, massive house inflation, and a nuclear winter – property market for many years after. I was actually in agency at the time, and remember it took over a decade for the market to come back.

    More recently, we had the introduction of additional stamp duty for buyers, purchasing second or more properties, result – another bun fight to buy before the tax change – then a slower market.

    My advice, annually the property industry in the UK is worth collectively 6.5BN, and the chancellor collects around 16BN a year in stamp duty revenue, before changing the level of, or introducing a new way to tax property, perhaps consult the UK real estate industry first.

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