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20 April 2021

Prime Resi

‘Activist’ Countrywide investor takes a stake in Foxtons; calls for change

Robin Paterson’s Catalist says that estate agency Foxtons is “significant undervalued relative to the platform’s potential”.

Continue reading on primeresi.com

20 April 2021

Graham Norwood - Estate Agent Today

Countrywide investor’s warning shot at underperforming Foxtons

The veteran estate agent who led criticism of Countrywide’s former management is turning his glare on Foxtons. The London estate agency has been the subject of mounting criticism for its ‘fat cat’ culture.

Continue reading on estateagenttoday.co.uk

20 April 2021

Marc Da Silva - Property Industry Eye

Foxtons struggling to regain lost market share, says investor

Foxtons is struggling to regain lost market share and halt the underperformance versus its peer group due to the firm’s current management’s strategy, according to Catalist Partners, which has a 2% stake in the company.

Continue reading on propertyindustryeye.com

19 April 2021

Nigel Lewis - The Negotiator

Catalist buys 2% stake in Foxtons as it urges action to turn agency around

Robin Paterson's 'activist investor' vehicle wants the estate agency's management to change direction and go for growth.

City ‘activist investment firm’ Catalist Partners has taken a 2% stake in Foxtons in a bid to persuade the estate agency to change its business strategy amid criticism that it is under-performing.

The move comes a week after it criticised CEO Nic Budden’s proposed £1 million bonus as ill-timed given the £4 million of public funds received by the agency to help it survive Covid.

Continue reading on thenegotiator.co.uk

19 April 2021

Louisa Clarence-Smith -
The Times

Foxtons ‘must rediscover glory days’

An activist investor has warned Foxtons that it needs to return to its “glory days” as an entrepreneurial FTSE 250 company and go-to London estate agency for the wealthy if it wants to dole out bumper bonuses.

Catalist Partners, which agitated for an overhaul of the Countrywide estate agency group before its takeover this year, has joined critics of Foxtons’ decision to award Nic Budden, its chief executive, a £1 million bonus for riding a housing market boom and benefiting from almost £7 million of government Covid support, including £4.4 million from the furlough scheme.

In a letter sent to Budden last Monday, Robin Paterson, the estate agency veteran who co-founded Catalist, said that benchmarking compensation to a FTSE 250 company was reasonable only if it was “matched” by financial performance.

Foxtons should use social media to promote its “rockstar” brokers, open branches outside London to benefit from an exodus of people to the country and increase market share in sales and lettings of new developments, he said.

He added that pay should be linked to revenue growth and earnings targets in areas that Catalist, which owns 2 per cent of Foxtons shares, thinks would boost earnings, including sales and lettings of super-prime properties.

Continue reading on thetimes.co.uk

19 April 2021

Piers Wehner -
EGI

Catalist warns Foxtons over bonuses

Catalist Partners has warned Foxtons to return to its "glory days" if it wants to hand out big bonuses. The activist investor has joined critics of Foxtons’ decision to award boss Nic Budden a £1m bonus for riding a housing market boom and benefiting from £7m of furlough support.

In a letter sent to Budden last Monday, Robin Paterson, the estate agency veteran who co-founded Catalist, said that benchmarking compensation to a FTSE 250 company was reasonable only if it was “matched” by financial performance. He added that Foxtons should use social media to promote its “rockstar” brokers, open branches.

Continue reading on egi.co.uk

12 April 2021

Letter to Foxtons Group plc

View the letter (PDF)

15 Feb 2021

Estate Agent Today

Countrywide Deal Done - Shareholders back Connells offer

Countrywide shareholders have overwhelmingly backed the offer by Connells to buy the company.

At a special virtual AGM today 99.58 per cent of Countrywide shareholders approved the deal - just 0.42 per cent opposed.

Under the terms of the acquisition, each Countrywide shareholder will be entitled to receive 395 pence in cash for each share.

Continue reading on estateagenttoday.co.uk

31 Dec 2020

Catalist Partners

Catalist Partners supports Connells offer

Catalist Partners seeks to unlock value in challenged, content driven companies, simplifying complexity and overcoming inertia.

Opaque financial reporting, a flawed business plan poorly executed and a failure to urgently repay debt, all contributed to an exceptional decline in the CWD share price over the past 3 years.

Our analysis, set out in an open letter of the 19th August, identified significant value not reflected in CWDs then share price.

This improved offer from Connells is c.3x the price at which the Board of Countrywide previously recommend selling control at, a transaction which Catalist strongly opposed, and also brings the specific industry expertise Catalist thinks necessary to restore the core sales and lettings business, along with a track record of successful integration.

Catalist Partners is therefore supporting this increased offer.

31 Dec 2020

Suzy Waite - Bloomberg

Connells Agrees to Buy Realtor Countrywide After Bidding War

Connells Ltd. has agreed to buy struggling U.K. realtor Countrywide Plc after prevailing in a bidding war with a private equity firm.

Connells, a privately owned property firm, will pay 395 pence per share in a cash deal that values Countrywide at about 134 million pounds ($183 million), according to a company statement on Thursday. That’s a premium of about 172% over the share price before the offer period began in November. The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.

Bid of 395 pence per share has been accepted by Countrywide - Bloomberg

31 Dec 2020

Financial Times

Countrywide agrees to takeover by rival Connells

Connells has reached an agreement to buy rival UK estate agency Countrywide, drawing a line under a long-running battle for control of the company.

Connells has agreed to pay 395 pence per share, valuing Countrywide at £134m - Financial Times

22 Oct 2020

Response to Countrywide’s 22/10/20 announcement

Catalist Partners notes Countrywide’s announcement this morning. As one of the Company’s largest shareholders, Catalist strongly opposes this unnecessary, ill-judged and dilutive transaction which, while clearly a very attractive deal for Alchemy, is destructive for shareholders and only serves to fund the continuation of a flawed 'back to basics' business plan.

Catlist rejects Countrywide investment proposal - Estate Agent Today

23 Oct 2020

Alistair Osborne

The Times - Long game a loser for Countrywide

Proof, at last, that Peter Long has learnt something about estate agency: “Today’s news marks an exciting new chapter in the evolution of Countrywide.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. What will the company’s executive chairman come up with next? Describe a cupboard as a double room?

Get inside the house and here’s what his new chapter really looks like: a £90 million cash injection underwritten by Alchemy, plus tender offer, that’ll hand the private equity firm up to 67.7 per cent of the group. And at a discount, to boot. In short, a deal to dilute the hell out of existing shareholder. Little wonder that 10.5 per cent investor Catalist Partners is fuming.

Continue reading on thetimes.co.uk

23 Oct 2020

Ben Marlow

The Telegraph - Estate agent's firmer footing

If there's one thing that the property industry doesn't lack, it is optimism. With the foundations wobbling at Countrywide, the estate agent has panicked, agreeing to a £90m rescue cash injection from shareholder Alchemy and £75m of new borrowings that it believes will miraculously transform its fortunes. It could certainly do with some help.

Pre-tax losses in the first six months of the year have widened to £49m from £41m; turnover is down by a quarter to £172m; one-off costs have leapt to £52m; and cash is dwindling at a rapid rate. But this isn't simply a Covid-inspired downturn. The company has been struggling for years. And it seems like a strange moment to fold when the Chancellor's stamp duty holiday, along with an exodus to the 'burbs, has triggered a mini-housing boom since the half-year ended.

Countrywide says it is "in urgent need of recapitalisation", but a £50m debt repayment is being cancelled out by £75m of new loans. Incoming chairman Carl Leaver is focused firmly on the positives. "A very bright future" awaits if the deal goes through, he says. Yet, the price of this salvage act is a single shareholder calling the shots with somewhere between 50pc and 68pc of the shares and dilution for the rest. Catalist, holder of a 10.5pc stake, has already objected to what it calls an "ill-judged transaction". It surely won't be alone.

The Telegraph

22 Oct 2020

Jessica Clark

City AM - Countrywide shareholder to oppose £90m lifeline from private equity investor

Estate agent chain Countrywide (LON: CWD) has secured a £90m lifeline from private equity firm Alchemy in an “urgent” bid to reduce debt, however a significant shareholder is planning to oppose the deal.

The firm, which owns Bairstow Eves and Hamptons International, said it is at a “critical inflection point” and is in “urgent need of recapitalisation to reduce its net debt and lessen its exposure to its lenders”.

Shares dived more than 11 per cent as Countrywide also said it is burdened by excessive debt, and requires a resilient balance sheet due to the weak macroeconomic outlook. The firm will also receive a £70m loan from its lenders following the capital raising, it said.

However, investor Catalist Partners, which owns a 10.5 per cent stake in the firm, said it is planning to vote against the proposals, claiming the deal would be “destructive for shareholders”.

Continue reading on cityam.comk

23 Oct 2020

Lucy White

Daily Mail - Countrywide investors clash over estate agent's planned rescue by private equity firm

Britain's biggest estate agency is at the centre of a furious row as shareholders clash over its future.

Countrywide said private equity firm Alchemy Partners was planning to hand it a £90million lifeline.

The deal would give Alchemy a stake of between 50.1 per cent and 67.7 per cent and see Countrywide executive chairman Peter Long replaced.

But activist investment firm Catalist Partners, which has a 10.5 per cent stake in Countrywide, branded the plan – which will see existing shareholders' stakes drastically watered down – 'ill-judged' and 'unnecessary'.

Continue reading on dailymail.co.uk

23 Oct 2020

Samantha McClary

Estates Gazette - What’s going on at LSH-owner Countrywide?

When one statement says a company is committed to selling a business it put up for sale almost a year ago and another – released just seconds apart – outlines how there are plans to grow the business, it is no wonder that shareholders have been left somewhat bewildered and angry. Lambert Smith Hampton owner Countrywide has been trying to offload the commercial agency since 27 December 2019. There has been one aborted attempt and discussions with another potential buyer are understood to be ongoing.

Continue reading on egi.co.uk

19 Aug 2020

Letter to Countrywide Plc

View the letter (PDF,130kb)
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