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Countrywide has strong opening week on return to stockmarket

Countrywide’s return to the London Stock Exchange was marked by a strong performance with its share price leaping almost 15 per cent to close at 397p each on the opening day of trading.

Countrywide announced on Tuesday its initial public offering would be priced at 350p per share. The offer comprised 57,142,858 new shares representing 26.7 per cent of the total shares in issue. None of the existing principal shareholders sold shares as part of the flotation.

The share price opened at 350p and quickly climbed to 390p by the end of the first day of trading. The market capitalisation, previously valued at £750m, currently stands at £836m as a consequence of the heightened investor interest.

Countrywide chief executive Grenville Turner says: “I am delighted by the very positive response we received from investors over the past few weeks which is recognition of the opportunity Countrywide has as the UK’s largest integrated property services group. I would like to thank all those – colleagues, partners, clients and customers – whose professionalism, effort and commitment have brought us to where we are today.

The group’s return to the stockmarket, after having been in the hands of private equity owners since 2007, came on the same day Chancellor George Osborne announced a number of Government commitments to boosting the housing market.

Chadney Bulgin mortgage partner Jonathan Clark says: “It is very encouraging to see such high investor confidence in a key UK estate agency group although it can’t be a coincidence that their re-launch to the stock market came on the same day that the Government announced important measures to help boost the housing market in their budget.”

US private equity group Oaktree Capital acquired its majority stake in Countrywide, which sells one in every 11 homes in the UK, in 2009 and injected £110m of fresh capital into the business.Oaktree begun discussions with Goldman Sachs and other banks about launching an initial public offering for the group in January.

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