Connells Group buys up Countrywide shares of rival ahead of deal vote

Agency says it has agreed to buy 895,360 shares off Alchemy, which at one point was poised to buy Countrywide.


Connells has bought the Countrywide shares of its principal rival in the race to acquire the estate agency.

Investment firm Alchemy has sold its 895,360 shares to Connells, which represent nearly 3% of Countrywide’s available stock.

This means Connells now owns or has the backing of shareholders representing just over 55% or 18 million of Countrywide’s shares, largely sealing the deal to buy the company, details of which are due to be voted through on February 15th.

Alchemy and Connells have in the past exchanged harsh words during their brief time as competitors in the race to buy Countrywide, including Connells’ assertion that Alchemy lacked the management experience to run a huge estate agency group.

Final act

Today’s announcement is the final denouement of this battle ahead of the official court-sanctioned vote at which investors will be asked to endorse the deal.

Connells will have to secure the votes of investors holding at least 75% of Countrywide’s share but, given it already has 55%, this is largely a formality.

The most recent announcement on the deal, issued on Friday, also contained an undertaking by Alchemy that it ‘did not intend to make an offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Countrywide pursuant to Rule 2.7 of the Takeover Code’.

But the costs of taking over Countrywide are mounting. Buying Alchemy’s shares will have cost Connells £3.56 million. The overall cost of buying its entire share allocation is set to reach £134 million, backed by the deep pockets of its owner, Skipton Building Society.

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