LSL shells out £1.5m to acquire Home of Choice

Appointed representatives of Home of Choice breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday evening after LSL Property Services confirmed it has bought the assets of the network for £1.5m.

ARs have been told they will be paid all commission owed to them if they sign new contracts to switch their Financial Services Authority authorisation.

The network has yet to clarify what the situation is for ARs who choose not to sign the contract.

Home of Choice hosted a number of roadshows last week at which directors told ARs it had been seeking a buyer for over five months.
Gerry O’Brien, chief executive officer of the network, says: “LSL is a financially secure parent and its strong balance sheet gives us the investment necessary to grow the business.

“My fellow directors and I set out five years ago on a journey to build the number one business network for advisers.”
O’Brien says the feedback he has received from the network’s ARs has been positive.

He adds: “Like me, they are excited about the opportunities afforded by a new parent to continue developing a robust network.”

Simon Embley, chief executive officer of LSL Property Services, says: “Home of Choice is an acknowledged leader in its field and I look forward to working in partnership to build on its solid foundations.

“Strategically, this acquisition will strengthen our relationships with key lending clients, thereby providing a significant opportunity to leverage our financial services assets across the group.”

He adds: “This acquisition makes us one of the leading mortgage distributers in the UK.”

LSL is the parent company of Your Move, Reeds Rains, Intercounty and Linear Financial Solutions, currently an AR of Openwork.
It also owns the UK’s second largest estate agency network, having recently acquired Halifax’s estate agency operation. LSL reported pre-tax profits of £28.3m for 2009.

But Tony Murtagh, managing director of The Money Group, has been angered by the deal and alleges that the network’s decision to favour LSL’s bid over his was wrong.

He says: “My offer did not protect the board but it was good for the creditors. I want to know in what way the LSL bid was the best deal for the creditors of Home of Choice.”

Murtagh has called on the board to explain why his bid was rejected.

He adds: “If I can see the minutes of the board meeting which explain why my bid was not as good as LSL’s, fair enough.”