Investment Fund Pushes For Foxtons Sale – But Industry-Insider Tells EYE, ‘No Deal’

By Jerome Smail and Caroline Culot.

An investment fund holding a 4% stake in Foxtons has joined calls advocating for a sale of the business.

Milkwood Capital is the latest entity calling for Foxtons to explore a sale, bringing the total proportion of shareholders pushing for the move up to 10%.

Earlier in the year, Canadian investor Converium Capital, which owns 6% of Foxtons, began lobbying the company’s board to carry out a strategic review regarding a potential sale.

Echoing the sentiment, Rhys Summerton, director of Milkwood Capital, told the Sunday Times at the weekend: “In 2015, Foxtons was a £1bn company, but the public markets are no longer valuing the good work the management has done recently and the only way to extract fair value is for the board to carry out a sale process.”

This demand aligns with the broader trend of acquisitions and mergers occurring within the estate agency industry, driven by a desire for growth amid a sector-wide slowdown.

Foxtons’ communications director William Baldwin-Charles declined to comment on the speculation of a potential sale when asked by EYE.

Amid the reports of a possible sale, Lucy Noonan,founder of Nottingham-based Atomic Consultancy, told EYE’s Caroline Culot that it was ‘categorically’ not on the cards.

Noonan, with 10 years of experience in estate agency acquisitions, told EYE: “Foxtons is categorically not up for sale.

“I know Guy Gittins and Andy Bushell and Foxtons has got a very strong growth, not exit, plan.

“Unfortunately, some buyers are not ethical and put rumours out to force conversations to happen. But since Guy Gittins took over a year ago, Foxtons has a clear strategy to grow and improve its share price.”

Atomic Consultancy currently has 18 sales progressing through to completion and Noonan would not divulge which of these were potential acquisitions by Foxtons.

Noonan said: “The acquisitions market is definitely very active but the (estate agency) market is not fully consolidating. What is happening is that people are struggling to recruit and there is the impending General Election which is a big factor in some businesses looking to exit.

“There could be tax implications if Labour get in, on the sale of shares which have been the subject of tax relief; this could increase the tax liability and decrease the overall price.”

Foxtons recently strengthened its rentals business by acquiring Ludlow Thompson, a London-based lettings agency, for £10m.

The company, which was founded in 1981, has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2014.

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