Foxtons dives as chief executive Michael Brown steps down


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The Independent Online

Shares in Foxtons fell more than 4 per cent as the City reacted to the news that chief executive and multi-millionaire Michael Brown has stepped down permanently from the helm of the estate agent after taking compassionate leave in April.

His departure comes nine months after the float of the London estate agent renowned for its Minis and aggressive selling tactics. He remains on the board as a non-executive director, but hands over the chief executive berth to Nic Budden, who has run the business for the past two months.

Brown joined Foxtons in 2002 as chief operating officer before stepping up to become chief executive in 2007 when founder Jon Hunt sold the business to private equity firm BC Partners for £360 million at the top of the market.

Before joining Foxtons he spent six years as general counsel and chief operating officer at the European arm of energy trading giant Enron, which collapsed in disgrace more than a decade ago.

Brown said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my 12 years at Foxtons and I am immensely proud of my colleagues and what we have achieved.”

Shares in the firm sank 4 per cent or 12.5p to 317.3p today as the City absorbed Brown’s departure although they remain well above the 230p offer price in last September’s float.

Brown offloaded 22.7 million shares in the launch, landing more than £60 million. His remaining 8 per cent stake in the business is worth £72 million at today’s prices.

Alongside the chief executive, 16 of 19 senior staff also landed share payouts of more than £1 million each after selling half their stake. BC Partners ceded control of Foxtons in 2010, but took majority ownership again in 2012 with a £50 million cash injection.