Apollo set to launch £1bn Countrywide bid

Apollo Management now has the financing in place to launch its £1 billion bid for UK estate agency chain Countrywide.

US buyout firm Apollo Management is reportedly set to make an offer early next week for Countrywide, the UK estate agency chain that recently rejected a buyout bid from 3i.

The Financial Times reported that Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs have put together a debt financing package for the bid, “which took longer than initially expected.”

The paper said Apollo’s bid would probably be at about 597 or 598 pence per share. This would be a significant increase on 3i’s bid, which equated to about 570 pence per share, but less than the 600 pence predicted by analysts. However, it would still value the company at just over £1.0 billion (€1.5 billion; $2.0 billion).

Any bid from Apollo would allow 3i to return to the negotiating table. The UK-listed group is currently barred from making another offer for Countrywide in the next six months, but this restriction is removed if another bidder emerges. It has so far repeatedly refused to bow to pressure to increase its original bid, but reports suggest that it may be reconsidering its position.

Apollo bought US real estate business Realogy Corporation for $9 billion last year. Some of Countrywide’s shareholders pointed to the earnings multiple Apollo paid on this deal as a justification for rejecting the 3i bid.