How many estate agents can the capital handle? We wonder because it turns out that Foxton’s plans to double in size, again, all while remaining well inside the M25.
We noticed this part of the plan after Credit Suisse published its thoughts on our post that several standard estate agent practices might be illegal and in the sights of the Office of Fair Trading. (Spoiler: turns out it is actually good for Foxtons and Countrywide). Read more
Foxton’s made some changes to its award wining website this weekend. It may be coincidence, but they came after we asked the company about the ideas of a private investor who blogs under the name Anja Liszt.
We had thought that sellers of estate agency businesses were taking advantage of rising valuations and a nascent property boom, but the anonymous investor has another theory. Read more
Here’s the doc. Click to read.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has sold loans it made to UK real estate firm Foxtons at the peak of the London property bubble to Haymarket Financial, a corporate lender launched last year, reports the FT. The deal severs all lending links between BofA and Foxtons, as the US bank is also selling its share of Foxtons’ mezzanine loans. Foxtons, best-known for its aggressive selling tactics, was bought for £360m by private equity group BC Partners in May 2007 using about £270m of debt from BofA and Japan’s Mizuho. A debt restructuring last December reduced the company’s debt from £270m to £130m. HayFin is paying less than 90p in the pound for the senior loans.
BC Partners is in talks to buy back some debt in Foxtons in an extraordinary reversal after the private equity firm lost control of the UK real estate agency last year, the FT reports. BC is in talks with BofA-Merrill Lynch to acquire some of the debt that the bank holds in Foxtons after a debt for equity restructuring in 2009, said people familar with the matter. One person added Mizuho was also in talks to sell some of its debt interest in Foxtons to BC.
Foxtons, the UK estate agent known for its aggressive selling tactics, has been taken over by its lenders after one of private equity’s most ill-timed deals. BC Partners, the buy-out group that acquired Foxtons from founder Jon Hunt for as much as £360m in May 2007, has agreed a refinancing deal to halve the agent’s debt in return for giving its lenders a majority stake. After more than a year of talks with Bank of America and Mizuho, the deal’s backers, BC Partners has agreed to inject less than £50m of fresh equity to remain its largest minority shareholder. The banks will own the majority of Foxton’s equity.
Too good to be true.
Widely reviled Highly successful estate agency Foxton’s has breached its banking covenants. BC Partners – the private equity firm that bought the company at the peak of the market gave a press conference yesterday. From Bloomberg (emphasis ours): Read more
Jon Hunt, the founder of Foxtons, London’s biggest estate agency, will bank the lion’s share in an estimated £400m deal with BC Partners, the private equity firm. The deal, which could be announced on Monday, follows six months of negotiations with 3i and other private equity firms that were also vying for Foxtons. While the exact price of the private deal may never become public, a sale at £400m would imply a price to earnings multiple significantly higher than other real estate deals, including Countrywide, which was sold to Apollo, the US private equity firm, for just under seven times earnings. The 53-year-old Mr Hunt owns 97 per cent of the company while Foxtons’ management owns the remaining 3 per cent.
3i is among potential bidders poised to put in offers for Foxtons, the privately owned estate agency owned by Jon Hunt, the entrepreneur. Credit Suisse, which is handling the process, is said to be seeking bids of £400m or above. Mr Hunt, who is set to reap a huge pay-out from any sale of the company founded in the 1980s, appointed Credit Suisse in November to examine options for a disposal. The bank is understood to be carrying out a parallel-track process of either a trade sale or an IPO. 3i’s interest comes just three weeks after it failed to win shareholder backing for a £970m management buy-out of Countrywide.