BC Partners nets estate agent Foxtons

Following months of speculation, BC Partners has been successful in buying Foxtons, the London-based estate agent. No price was disclosed for the transaction, which also included Alexander Hall Associates, an independent mortgage broker group, but BC Partners is believed to have paid about £390m (€574.3m).

BC Partners was advised by Merrill Lynch and Foxtons’ shareholders by Credit Suisse on the transaction, which does not include the North American business of Foxtons.

Foxtons was founded in 1981 by Jon Hunt, who is expected to net about £370m from cashing out of his 97% in the business. Foxtons will continue to be run by the existing management team, led by Michael Brown, who will be appointed chief executive upon completion of the sale, which is expected within the next six weeks.

Hunt built Foxtons, famous for the flamboyant minis that its staff use, from its first office in Notting Hill to 19 offices across London and one in Guildford, as well as a staff of more than 1,300 and revenues in 2006 of more than £100m.

3i was also in early talks with Foxtons following its failure to win over shareholders at Countrywide, the listed UK estate agent that was eventually taken private by Apollo Management for £1.054bn in early May. However, 3i walked away from the Foxtons deal several weeks ago. TA Associates is also understood to have shown an interest in Foxtons.

BC Partners’ investment was made from its BC European Capital VIII fund, which closed with €5.5bn of commitments in May 2005. A spokesperson for BC Partners said that BC Partners’ seventh fund was approximately 20% invested prior to the Foxtons transaction.

Robert Venes