Countrywide calls in Ashurst for 3i buyout

Ashurst has scooped a key role advising Countrywide on a 3i-led management buyout of the company.

The firm advised Countrywide in securing the £940m deal with private equity house 3i, which is backed by Countrywide’s management and managing director Harry Hill. They will become shareholders and continue to run the business.

Ashurst corporate partners Adrian Clark and James Perry led the team advising long-term client Countrywide.

In 2004, Ashurst acted for Countrywide in relation to its acquisition of Bradford & Bingley’s estate agency business and the entire issued share capital of SecureMove Property Services for £44.4m.

Countrywide is offering shareholders 490 pence a share in cash. In addition, the company’s 21.9 per cent stake in Rightmove, the property website which was floated last year, will be distributed to shareholders, bringing the value of the bid to more than 550 pence a share.

Countrywide, which is the largest estate agency network in the UK, has taken on 400 people in the past year.

Travers Smith acted for 3i, led by corporate finance partner Andrew Gillen. Watson Burton advised the Countrywide management team, led by partner Andrew Walker and Lester Wilson.

The deal is not expected to close until early next year.