Countrywide expands with acquisition of Hamptons

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The Independent Online

Countrywide, Britain's largest residential estate agency and property services group, has agreed to buy most of its upmarket rival Hamptons International.

The Countrywide chief executive, Grenville Turner, called the move a "major breakthrough" for the two companies and said Countrywide would purchase the UK, European, Asian and Latin American businesses of Hamptons from Dubai-based Emaar Properties.

Emaar, which bought Hamptons from Wheelock Properties for 563 million dirhams (£104m) in 2006, will keep hold of the Middle East and North African businesses.

The companies will retain close ties and continue to trade under the Hamptons International brand.

Neither party would disclose the cost of the transaction but Mr Turner said it was "the most significant for Countrywide for many years".

He described Hamptons as "one of the premier international residential agencies" with its network of more than 80 branches in the UK and overseas. These will join Countrywide's 1,200 offices and 43 estate agency brands.

"The acquisition forms a key part of Countrywide's strategic plan to further expand into the prestigious high-end property market," Mr Turner added.

Countrywide began a strategic review in 2008 to outline a three- to five-year strategy for the business. It decided to target the lucrative top end of the property market.

Yesterday's deal follows Countrywide's recent licensing agreement with Sotheby's International Realty. The contract saw Countrywide take control of Sotheby's International's UK business, which also concentrates on selling multimillion-pound homes to well-heeled clients.