Onthemarket’s £50m float plan causes tempers to flare
A ROW has erupted among members of property website Onthemarket over a proposed stock market float which would trigger a £20m windfall for its chief executive.
Onthemarket has announced plans to raise £50m on London’s junior Aim market, part of efforts to boost its profile and compete with rivals Rightmove and Zoopla.
The company, which was founded as a mutual by a group of agents and now has 2,700 members, must pass a vote in September of existing shareholders over a 75pc threshold.
But opposition to the float is growing among some of its members, particularly those in smaller agencies with few branches. One agent signed up to the service described the float as “shortsighted”.
Boss Ian Springett has 3.9m shares which would be worth £20m if the firm achieved the valuation it expects of between £200m and £250m. Graeme Lumsden, an estate agent signed up to Onthemarket, has started a campaign to vote against the float, arguing that the demutualisation would take power away from the original members of the mutual because the board and new investors would control roughly 50pc of the company.
He said: “My vote ‘no’ is really a plea to vote [for] change with the sincere hope that the chief executive and board will begin a real dialogue with the current membership to find the best proposal that the members can resoundingly support.” Some agents also fear that the vote has been pushed through during the summer.
Another wrote to Mr Lumsden: “I think this is being dealt with far too hastily without proper consultation.”
Mr Springett said: “We believe that floating OTM and seeking to raise £50m in capital from new investors could substantially strengthen our market position.”