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Estate agent Countrywide gets £140m emergency cash

“Investors in Countrywide, the UK’s largest estate agency owner, have approved a £140m emergency fundraising at the company’s annual meeting.

The company owns 50 brands including Bairstow Eves and Hamptons International and employs 8,000 people.

A £200m debt pile and difficult trading conditions have forced Countrywide to raise funds to stay afloat.

Its decision to raise £111m by placing more than 1 billion shares at 10p sent shares crashing earlier this month.

The shares had been trading at about 50p but fell as much as 80% after the fundraising was announced.

They were down 7% to 14p on Tuesday, valuing the company at £76m.

Just 2% of votes were cast against the fundraising, in which Oaktree Capital will buy shares worth £24m.

The private equity group’s stake in Countrywide will fall from 30% to 19% as a result.

Last week, Countrywide cancelled plans for a new bonus package for its top bosses following an outcry from investors.

The package could have paid out a total of £20m to three executives, depending on the firm’s share price performance over the next three years.

In January, chief executive Alison Platt departed after Countrywide issued a profit warning, with chairman Peter Long becoming executive chairman.

Another profit warning followed in June when the company said results for the first half were likely to be about £20m lower than last year.”

Source – BBC News