City activist continues to dog OnTheMarket deal

Brett Stone has set out his key concerns with the CoStar deal as well as six potential solutions to try and resolve the situation amicably.

brett stone

City activist Brett Stone (main picture) is continuing his sabre rattling against Washington D.C. based CoStar Group’s proposed acquisition of OnTheMarket AFTER the former’s lawyers Latham & Watkins requested he makes no more public statements.

In Stone’s response to Latham & Watkins, published on social media, he sets out seven key concerns with the CoStar deal as well as six potential solutions to try and resolve the situation amicably.


As well as reiterating his desire to see CoStar commit to cap agent listing fees he also wants to see a new regulatory framework.

Under the plan, Stone wants to see CoStar and or OnTheMarket recommend that the UK government form a task force to explore creating a new dedicated regulator to oversee the UK property and property commerce category, ‘including its three digital gatekeepers, Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket’.

Stone also suggests a ‘three month go-shop’ period which would see CoStar and OnTheMarket agree to ‘a comprehensive three-month go-shop period, led by a new investment bank to solicit other proposals’.

At the end of the go-shop period Stone suggests that the best two proposals could be put forward to shareholders to vote on side by side at the same time.


Other ‘solutions’ include the creation of ‘a special committee investigation and public report’ to investigate disputed published historic press allegations surrounding CoStar; self-referral to the Competition and Markets Authority to determine if CoStar’s entry into the UK property portal market is in the United Kingdom’s national interest as well as a Parliamentary Inquiry into the acquisition and the relationship between estate agents and ‘the big three portals’.

Stone also questions if Latham & Watkins are abiding by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority principle of putting the wider public interest ahead of their client’s interests and their own.

The Neg revealed last week how Stone had told OnTheMarket member estate agents that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ and is asking agents to help him block the bid going forward.

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