Online estate agent Purplebricks sold for £1, putting 750 jobs at risk

Purplebricks, the as soon as high-flying on-line property agent that reached a peak valuation of greater than £1.3bn, has been offered to Charles Dunstone-backed rival Strike for £1 with all of its greater than 750 workers put liable to redundancy.

The corporate, which had threatened to shake up the property market with its low-cost mannequin, put itself up on the market in February after issuing a string of revenue warnings that resulted in its market worth plunging to only £30m.

Shares in Purplebricks plunged greater than 40% on Wednesday, giving the corporate a market capitalisation of simply over £2m, as the fireplace sale all however worn out shareholders.

As a part of the deal, Strike intends to embark on a cost-cutting drive that features “decreasing the worker base” at Purplebricks.

“Whereas this can require complete planning, Strike has indicated it want to full this planning and provoke a redundancy session course of, with the corporate’s help, that might doubtless contain the entire firm’s staff as quickly as practicable and presumably previous to completion [of the deal],” Purplebricks stated.

“Strike has nonetheless assured the board that its agency intention is to develop the enterprise, which would require continued worker help and that any staff affected by redundancy might be handled pretty and equitably, according to Strike’s tradition of respect.”

The corporate’s board stated the entire superior talks held with potential suitors concerned “some proposals to scale back or in any other case change the corporate’s workforce”.

Purplebricks admitted it was “upset” with the worth of the deal, which might lead to Strike assuming most of its liabilities, however stated no higher presents emerged through the sale course of.

Beneath the phrases of the deal, Purplebricks will use about £5.5m in money it has on its stability sheet to pay bills and prices not coated by Strike, leaving shareholders round £2m in proceeds from the sale.

“I’m upset with the monetary worth final result, each as a 5% shareholder myself and for shareholders who’ve supported the corporate underneath my and the board’s stewardship,” the Purplebricks chair, Paul Pindar, stated.

“Nevertheless, there was no different proposal or supply which offered a greater return for shareholders, with the identical certainty of funding and pace of supply vital to supply the soundness the corporate wants.”

The corporate’s 5 greatest shareholders are the German writer Axel Springer, which holds a 26.5% stake, JNE Companions (11%), Momentum International Funding Administration (7%), Pindar (5%) and Hargreaves Lansdown Asset Administration (5%).

Dunstone, who based companies together with Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk, stated that the deal represented a “constructive final result” for homebuyers and sellers.

He’s a associate at Freston Ventures, the joint important shareholder in Strike. He was value an estimated £815m in 2022 as his wealth swelled by £40m, in line with the Sunday Instances.

The strategic evaluation of Purplebricks kicked off in February – which included an fairness fund elevate – reportedly sparked curiosity from the corporate’s co-founder Michael Bruce.

Bruce, who co-founded the enterprise with brother Kenny in 2012, presides over the mental property of Boomin, a property portal he based after standing down as chief government of Purplebricks in 2019. Boomin was compelled into liquidation final yr after failing to safe new funding.

Helena Marston, the chief government of Purplebricks, stated the deal has allowed the corporate to safe a “solvent final result” that additionally “preserves” its client model identify available in the market. She’s going to resign after completion of the deal.

Dunstone stated: “Purplebricks has dramatically modified the business by driving down the price of property company [fees] and we purpose to mix its important model recognition with an much more disruptive mannequin.

“In bringing collectively the 2 manufacturers, we’ll supercharge Strike’s mission to democratise home promoting by empowering prospects.”

Purplebricks launched in 2014 and obtained early backing from Neil Woodford, the previous star stockpicker. It floated on London’s junior market, Purpose, in December 2015.

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