Countrywide Pursues Tie-Up With Rival U.K. Property Broker LSL

(Bloomberg) --

Struggling U.K. real-estate broker Countrywide Plc is in talks on a tie-up with rival LSL Property Services Plc.

The two companies said in statements on Monday that discussions on an all-share deal are ongoing, though there’s no certainty that LSL will ultimately make an offer. A combination would create Britain’s largest property group, with more than 14,000 employees.

Shares in Countrywide initially rose in London trading on Monday before erasing gains. Its shares are down about 39% over the past year, while LSL is up 37.5% during that period.

The U.K.’s sluggish housing market has dragged on many real-estate firms in recent years, as tax changes increased the cost of buying a home and the prolonged Brexit uncertainty weighed on deals. Traditional brokers have also faced competition from lower-cost online rivals such as Purplebricks Group Plc. Countrywide also faces mounting debts that increased to 90 million pounds ($116 million) as of June 30.

Sky News reported earlier on the talks.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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