Countrywide PLC - Chelmsford-based estate agent - For first half of 2020 posts pretax loss of GBP48.8 million, widening from GBP41.1 million the year prior. This is as revenue falls 28% to GBP172.6 million from GBP238.2 million, with the decline a result of the closure of all branches in March due to the pandemic.
Says it booked net exceptional costs of GBP51.8 million, up from GBP42.8 million the year prior including impairment charges of GBP46.3 million and additional consultancy costs of GBP1 million.
Looking ahead, Countrywide says: "Current trading remains buoyant, with positive performance indicators across the group. The government's stamp duty holiday for properties up to GBP500,000 provides further stimulus to our principal markets. However, it is still too early to assess the long-term impact of Covid-19 on the economy, and specifically housing transactions and, as a result the group is unable to provide guidance for 2020."
Cash held as at June-end was GBP76.8 million, up from GBP17.8 million the year prior.
Separately, the company announces a proposed recapitalisation that will see Alchemy Partners invest up to GBP90 million through placing, open offer and tender offer. Following recapitalisation, Carl Leaver will join the board as chair. Alchemy is also in discussions with a potential new chief executive, as Countrywide currently has no CEO.
If transaction is approved by shareholders, Alchemy will hold between 50% to 68% stake in Countrywide.
Countrywide says new cash will be used to reduce debt by GBP50 million, facilitate the completion of its turnaround plan, boost its balance sheet to withstand market uncertainty.
Current stock price: 163.43 pence
Year-to-date change: down 53%
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