Countrywide says yes to Apollo bid

The Countrywide buyout saga continued last week after the estate agency accepted a takeover offer from Apollo Management, while a counter-offer was rumoured to be on the cards.

US private equity firm Apollo’s £1.01bn offer to buy Countrywide has been accepted by its board. This follows months of talks between Countrywide and suitors.

In January, 3i’s £1.02bn bid was rejected after it failed to achieve a 75% approval vote from Countrywide shareholders. But under takeover rules, the Apollo offer means that 3i is now eligible to make further attempts to buy the company.

Apollo first made its offer at the end of February on the condition that Countrywide shareholders gave it their support.

Artisan, which held the largest stake in Countrywide and was strongly opposed to the 3i bid, is believed to have backed the offer.

Countrywide’s shares, which were worth 590p when the deal was struck, were sold for 510p in cash, a 5p improvement on Apollo’s original bid and a 4% improvement on 3i’s January offer. Shares jumped to 600p following the buyout announcement.

Apollo has also bought Countrywide’s 21.5% stake in Rightmove.co.uk at 80p per share.

Christopher Sporborg, chairman of Countrywide, says: “A number of key shareholders including ones who voted against the previous offer from 3i have indicated their support for Apollo’s offer.

“For this reason I believe it is appropriate for the board to recommend Apollo’s offer.”