On 30 December, with New Year's Eve festivities about to get into full swing, the management and advisers of estate agency chain Countrywide were preparing to secure the completion of a vital deal: the £38M sale of commercial property business Lambert Smith Hampton. The money raised would be used to repay a £34M loan, a big chunk of the debt that was weighing down a company whose share price had dropped sharply as it struggled to adapt to the modern property marketplace.
But at 1.25am on 31 December, an email dropped into the company’s inbox that put a big dent in the plans of Countrywide, the UK’s largest estate agency chain. LSH’s buyer, Danish private investor John Bengt Moeller, was facing practical difficulties in arranging the transfer of the £38M. The transfer was imminent, but he needed more time, he said. Just 10 hours before a deadline of 11am, the deal was delayed.
This is the situation outlined by Countrywide in a legal claim against Moeller, seen by Bisnow, in which the company is seeking more than £10M in damages. In the claim it outlines how two further deadlines to complete the deal were missed by Moeller, after which the deal was terminated. Moeller…
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