Investor urges Countrywide to reshape business
ONE of Britain’s biggest estate agents faces calls to overhaul senior management, sell assets and shut hundreds of branches after an attack from an activist investor.
Countrywide has been urged to reshape its business in an open letter from industry veteran Robin Patterson, whose firm Catalist Partners has bought 10.5pc of the company.
Mr Patterson condemned a 97pc slump in Countrywide’s share price over the past four years and warned that rivals now have a much higher market value despite their lower revenues.
Catalist called for the company to sell off non-essential divisions worth £300m, slim down its 50 brands to no more than 10 and replace 700 branches with hubs on key high streets. It also said Countrywide should hire a chief executive with industry experience to work with Peter Long, its executive chairman. It is understood that Catalist has a shortlist of preferred candidates.
The firm is currently looking for its third chief executive in as many years.
Mr Patterson, a former coowner and boss of rival Hamptons International, said: “The leadership of the company needs to be urgently addressed.”
Catalist is understood to have spoken to a majority of shareholders in Countrywide and is said to be confident of support.
A Countrywide spokesman said: “We are in regular and constructive dialogue with all our main shareholders and will be updating the market in due course when we publish our half-year results.”