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Countrywide loses two-thirds of market cap in just two days

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Wed 18 Mar 2020

Countrywide loses two-thirds of market cap in just two days

Countrywide shares fell by just over 30 per cent yesterday as the stock market blood-letting continued for property stocks.

The value fell 30.86 per cent as trading closed on Tuesday afternoon, following a 50 per cent fall for the agency on Monday; to cap it all, the company then chose to announce that Bruce Marsh - who was to become chief operating officer - had quit the company before he even walked into his office. 

As of this morning, Countrywide's market capitalisation is a meagre £18.5m. 

Market cap is important because it provides a way for investors to compare companies, and it is an indicator of the perceived current and future success of the company.

Across the rest of the property-related firms quoted on the stock market, Purplebricks was down 16.1 per cent yesterday, Foxtons down 7.69 per cent, OnTheMarket dropped 6.29 per cent and Rightmove down by 2.17 per cent.

Even Savills, which is less exposed to the volatile residential market because of its substantial commercial and consultancy work, saw its share price tumble 5.84 per cent.

LSL Property Services, which on Monday revealed it was not going ahead with a possible takeover of Countrywide, fell a modest 2.58 per cent yesterday; The Property Franchise Group, which owns five High Street agency brands, fell a similar 2.54 per cent. 

Hunters bucked the trend, ending yesterday up 5.62 per cent after falls on Monday.

Marsh’s shock about-turn in the Countrywide saga, which came through early last evening.

The firm's trading statement issued at the time said: "Countrywide plc announces that Bruce Marsh has informed the group that he will no longer be joining the business. The company announced on October 9 2019 that he had accepted the appointment of chief operating officer, and executive director on the board of Countrywide plc.”

No explanation was given as to why Marsh changed his mind, although the period between his appointment and now has seen a series of problems for the hapless company, including a bungled attempt to sell its commercial arm and now-discontinued takeover talks with LSL.