Foxtons, which last year earned more than half its revenue from its lettings business, is focused on expansion within London, home to 40 of its 42 branches, and has said it is aiming for five to 10 new branch openings a year between 2014 and 2018. But analyst Anthony Codling at brokerage Jefferies said that while estate agents were the best way to gain exposure to the UK housing market, prospects were better for nationwide firms. “We see more significant potential for house price growth outside of London than inside,” he said in a note. Jefferies worked on Countrywide’s float. CHEQUERED HISTORY House prices fell 16.3 percent in London after the financial crash and by 16.6 percent across England and Wales, according to Land Registry data. While London prices have recovered to 6 percent above their pre-crash peak, in the rest of the country they are still 10 percent below. Foxtons’ offering, which was oversubscribed, raised 335 million pounds for selling shareholders, including majority owner private equity group BC Partners, and company employees. BC Partners reduced its stake from 75 percent to 28.3 percent through the sale and if an overallotment option – whereby more shares can be sold if there is strong enough demand – is exercised this will drop further to 22.3 percent. Foxtons Chief Executive Michael Brown stands to pocket 52.3 million pounds from reducing his stake to 8.1 percent. The company, known for its cafe-style branches and the distinctive Mini Cooper cars driven by its sales staff, also raised 55 million pounds from selling new shares to reduce debt. A source close to the deal said good demand had come from investors in the UK and United States, with buyers confident housing market transactions volumes were far from peaking and Foxton’s strong lettings business would also support its value. The offer prospectus shows New-York based asset manager Blackrock (BLK.N) was a large investor, buying an 8.2 percent stake, while Fidelity Worldwide Investments holds 3.2 percent. The offer price valued Foxtons at around 18 times next year’s forecast earnings, compared with 17 times for Countrywide and a median of around 12.3 times for UK housebuilders, according to Thomson Reuters data. The float marks a milestone for BC, which has had a chequered history with Foxtons since first buying it for about 360 million pounds in 2007.
“I thank the UK government that they did not stay misguided for too long,” he said, adding that he had not been given any explanation for being detained. “I have never done anything illegal, immoral or unethical. So I kept asking them to let me know what my fault was. I was not informed about the reasons. But there was no bad behaviour on their part. At one point one of the officials did get angry but I stayed cool so there was no problem,” Ramdev said in reference to his detention. Ramdev is in the UK to chair a series of yoga shivirs and talks organised by the Patanjali Yog Peeth (UK) Trust. Vaz, who had accompanied the yoga guru from a gathering in Leicester for the meeting here today, said he would make further inquiries into the reasons behind the hours of questioning. “No Indian citizen travelling on a valid visa should be held in this way. I hope this will not stop Baba Ramdev from coming to the UK again. All his belongings and passport with a two-year valid UK visa have now been returned to him,” Vaz said. “It has certainly been an odd arrival but he can now go about with his planned itinerary,” the Leicester East MP said The UK Home Office refused to comment on what it described as an individual’s questioning over immigration issues. Ramdev’s spokesperson S K Tejarawala dismissed reports that he was detained for carrying some medicines.