UK's Countrywide eyes valuation of up to 750 mln stg - sources

Wed Mar 6, 2013 4:12am EST

* Sets price range of 260-350 pence per share

* Seeking to raise 200 mln stg from sale of new stock

LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - Countrywide Holdings, Britain's largest estate agent by revenue, is hoping to be valued at as much as 750 million pounds ($1.1 billion) in its London listing this month, two sources close to the deal said.

Countrywide has begun taking orders for the sale in a price range of 260 pence to 350 pence per share, the sources said, giving the company an overall valuation of 600 million pounds to 750 million pounds.

The offering of new shares, from which the company has said it plans to raise 200 million pounds to repay debt and grow the business, includes a 10 percent overallotment option, whereby extra stock can be sold if investor demand is high.

Its private equity owners Oaktree Capital, Apollo Global and Alchemy will not be reducing their stake, and have agreed not to sell any shares for six months after the listing is completed.

Rising equity markets across Europe have fuelled a pick up in new listings in recent months. British housebuilder Crest Nicholson returned to the stock market last month and home and motor insurer esure is currently marketing a share sale to potential investors.

Countrywide is expected to set a final price for its shares on March 19 and make its stock market debut the following day, the sources said.

Countrywide, which sells and rents houses and flats, is making a return to the stock market having been listed between 1986 and 2007 before it was taken private at the peak of the market by U.S. private equity group Apollo.

Oaktree took control in 2009 via a debt for equity swap.

Goldman Sachs, Jefferies International and Credit Suisse are bookrunners for the listing.

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