US buyout groups BC Partners and TA Associates have reportedly joined the list of firms interested in buying Foxtons, a UK estate agency valued at more than £400 million (€589 million, $787 million)
Credit Suisse, which was hired in November to explore options for a disposal, is thought to be seeking bids of more than £400 million.
According to the Times, Jon Hunt, the co-founder of Foxtons who still owns more than 90 percent of the company, plans to sell his entire stake, pocketing about £400 million.
Hunt’s company, which is known for its aggressive sales tactics, attracted controversy last year when an undercover BBC documentary suggested that staff had forged clients’ signatures and obtained confidential information about buyers from and sister company Alexander Hall, a mortgage broker. The company subsequently denied the allegations.
3i’s £970 million bid for Countrywide was rejected by shareholders earlier this year. US buyout firm Apollo Management has since agreed a £1 billion deal for the chain, but recent reports have cast doubt on its completion following news that US hedge fund Polygon has accumulated a blocking stake.