HBOS sells 13 per cent stake in Rightmove as agents feel the heat

HBOS has sold its remaining stake in Rightmove as the faltering housing market puts extra pressure on the estate agents who advertise through the site.

The bank, which owns Halifax, announced yesterday that it had sold 13 per cent of the UK's biggest residential property website for £59.2m. HBOS was one of the founding investors in Rightmove when it was launched in 2000.

HBOS announced the sale of 16.2 million Rightmove shares at 365p each through UBS and Numis. The bank held 20 per cent of Rightmove when the company floated on the London stock market in 2006 and sold 11 million shares in two tranches last year.

An HBOS spokesman said the timing of the sale did not reflect the bank's view of the property market. "The stake in Rightmove was a strategic investment. We have been selling our stake down over time," he said. Halifax's estate agency, the third-biggest in the country, will continue to offer all its properties through Rightmove, the bank added. The sale of the Rightmove stake by Britain's biggest mortgage lender came as Humberts, one of Britain's oldest estate agents, suspended its shares yesterday morning and said it was seeking to clarify its financial condition. The company said this week that it was struggling to meet the terms of an equity-raising deal.

Humberts shares were suspended at 3.25p on the Alternative Investment Market yesterday morning after falling more than 16 per cent on Thursday. The company's stock has fallen 88 per cent this year, valuing it at just £2m. The 165-year-old company, which is 20 per cent owned by the property investor Vincent Tchenguiz, planned to raise £2.25m of equity through a share placing after the collapse of a takeover attempt but said this week that it would be "difficult or impossible" to meet certain conditions. Humberts has about 80 branches after expanding quickly, mainly by acquisition, since 2005.

In a further sign of gloom for the property market, Crest Nicholson, the commercial and residential developer owned by HBOS and Sir Tom Hunter, is shedding 10 per cent of its staff, or about 80 people. The news followed figures showing a construction slump in the first three months of the year. New housing starts were down by almost a quarter from a year earlier.

The HBOS sale sent Rightmove's shares down more than 7 per cent before the stock made a partial recovery to close at 378.25p, a fall of 1.9 per cent on the day.

The Bank of England reiterated yesterday that its special liquidity facility, which will allow banks to swap mortgage-backed securities for Treasury bills to unclog the money markets, is open-ended and that its initial £50bn was based on conversations with lend-ers about their immediate needs.

Industry sources are staying tight-lipped about use of the facility under orders from the Bank but a number of lenders are thought to have pledged collateral for assessment by the central bank.

Steven Crawshaw, the chief executive of Bradford & Bingley, said on Wednesday that the liquidity facility was already starting to open up the market for inter-bank lending of three months or more.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference in Zurich June 1, 2011
Life and Style
food + drink
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith