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Chestertons, one of the UK’s oldest estate agents, has been sold to a European real estate services and technology group, in the latest sign of consolidation in the British property sector.
The more than 200-year-old London agency has been acquired by Emeria, which is owned by the Swiss private equity firm Partners Group. Emeria is paying about £100mn for Chestertons, a person familiar with the deal said.
The sale of Chestertons, confirmed by both sides on Monday, follows an almost two-decade-long turnaround effort at the company and comes amid intensifying pressure in the UK housing market from rising mortgage costs following successive interest rate rises by the Bank of England.
The market is on track for its slowest year in more than a decade, according to property portal Zoopla, with house prices falling in recent months from pandemic-era highs.
The sale is the latest sign of dealmaking in the sector, coming on the heels of a bid by CoStar, a US-based real estate company, for UK property portal OnTheMarket. CoStar said last week it had made an offer of about £100mn for the company, sending rival property site Rightmove’s shares down 12 per cent on Thursday.
London-based estate agency Foxtons also flagged earlier this year that it was looking to acquire rival agencies this year in an attempt to expand its lettings business amid a slowdown in house sales. Residential rents climbed 12 per cent in August, their largest annual increase on record, according to data from estate agency Hamptons.
Chestertons was founded in 1805 and bought out of receivership in 2005 by the Mercantile Group, led by Salah Mussa.
Mercantile combined Chestertons, which focuses on sales and lettings of upmarket homes in London, with Humberts in 2009 after buying the majority of Humberts out of administration. The company split the two brands again in 2014.
Mercantile also owns residential developer Wellingtons and mortgage broker Springtide Capital.
While Emeria is acquiring Chestertons’ UK operations, Mercantile will remain the owner of the company’s other international operations.
“With 2023 set to be a record year for the business, [the deal] demonstrates how we have transformed from a struggling small agency, into a thriving, resilient business,” Mussa said in a statement. Mercantile declined to comment on the terms of the deal.
Under Mercantile’s ownership, Chestertons has expanded in the UK to 30 branches from nine locations. Its global brand operates in 12 other countries.
In the UK, Chestertons’ revenue rose from below £17mn in 2006 to a forecast record revenue of £70mn in 2023. Turnover rose 28 per cent to £58.3mn in 2021, with £13.3mn in earnings, according to its latest accounts filed with Companies House.
In a joint statement, Chestertons and Emeria said the deal would lead to “substantial investment into expansion of the 200-year-old business” but declined to comment on the price.
Emeria has more than €1.5bn in annual revenue and 700 branches, with 17,000 employees across eight countries, according to its website. It has brands including Knight Square Insurance and lettings and management company Campions in the UK.
Emeria is also backed by the private equity group TA Associates.