Ashurst lands second countrywide bid

Ashurst is preparing for a run on its client, property company Countrywide, for the second time in three months, this time from US private equity house Apollo, advised by a Charles Randell-led team at Slaughter and May. Ashurst corporate head Adrian Clark is advising Countrywide alongside corporate partner Robert Ogilvy-Watson and London competition head Nigel Parr. Apollo, through its UK-incorporated company Castle Bidco, has tabled a £1.08bn offer for Countrywide, whose portfolio includes estate agent Bairstow Eves. The offer, structured as a scheme of arrangement, values Countrywide at 590p per share – a 28 per cent premium on Countrywide’s share price on 13 September 2006. Apollo’s bid follows that of Travers Smith private equity client 3i, which offered 490p per share in cash in December. The word on the street is that Apollo’s bid might spark 3i into making another offer.