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Foxtons ambush London rival Chestertons with heist of CEO Gittins | business news

Foxtons has ambushed rival London estate agent Chestertons to poach its chief executive amid pressure from activist shareholders to sell the company.

Sky News has learned that Foxtons have decided to appoint Guy Gittins as the new boss, replacing Nic Budden, who has run the company for almost eight years.

Foxtons could announce the move, which was rumored in industry circles over the weekend, as early as Monday morning.

Mr Gittins was reported late last week that he had resigned from his role at Chestertons with immediate effect, but without specifying his objective.

The appointment of a new CEO marks another step in Chairman Nigel Rich’s efforts to improve Foxtons’ performance after a period in which shares have continued to fall even as property prices in the capital have hit record highs.

Foxtons’ shares have plunged 38% in the last year and have a market value of just £115m – a far cry from its 267p per share IPO in 2013.

Mr Rich was parachuted out last fall under pressure from a number of major shareholders including Converium Capital, a Canadian investment fund which had reportedly written to Foxtons to urge its board to put him up for sale.

Foxtons has endured a bumpy ride from shareholders over executive pay packages after receiving support from taxpayers as well as aspects of its corporate strategy during the pandemic.

A year ago, Hosking Partners, which held an 11 percent stake in the real estate agent at the time, called for a “radical change at the board level” of the company.

Last week it announced the acquisitions of Gordon & Co and Stones Residential, two smaller competitors, for a combined £10.5m.

Since joining, Mr. Rich has reshaped Foxtons’ board and hired Peter Rollings, a former company executive, as a non-executive director.

First-quarter rental income reported in April was the bright spot in an update for the city.

Coincidentally, given the investor’s request to sell Foxtons himself, Mr Gittins joins from a real estate agent who has himself been in talks to sell.

Last December, Sky News revealed that a new rental group was backed by the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group in talks to buy Chestertonsone of the oldest real estate agents in the world.

The Lomond Group, which is partly owned by LDC, was in exclusive negotiations over a deal that could value Chestertons at nearly £100million, but talks are believed to have stalled since.

Founded in 1805, Chestertons is an investment vehicle owned by Salah Mussa, a Libyan businessman who acquired it in 2005.

In a post on professional networking site LinkedIn on Friday, Mr Gittins said the decision to leave Chestertons was “extraordinarily difficult and came after a thorough reflection on my personal long-term career goals”.

A Foxtons spokesman declined to comment.

Foxtons ambush London rival Chestertons with heist of CEO Gittins | business news

Source link Foxtons ambush London rival Chestertons with heist of CEO Gittins | business news

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