Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cityspy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cityspy

Article excerpt

* ESTATE AGENT Foxtons has earned a reputation for selling houses at premium prices.

So is founder Jon Hunt, pictured, now trying to flog his business the same way?

Press reports have claimed the agency could fetch [pounds sterling]400 million - a very full price, particularly as Savills was rumoured to be willing to pay just [pounds sterling]80 million last year. Hunt insists the articles have nothing to do with him and, in an email to the troops seen by City Spy, he writes: "These are not stories we have placed or had any involvement in, they are purely speculation." As to claims that private equity, notably 3i, is circling, he says it is not unusual for private equity to be showing an interest. "If we hadn't been approached, I would have been disappointed," Hunt tells staff.

So, not so speculative, then.

* STORIES have also surfaced saying Savills is again a possible suitor. But similarly, is somebody talking up Foxtons' book? Hunt writes: "With regard to the mention of Savills wishing to buy us, this is complete and utter fictitious nonsense and only likely to happen in the dreams of some irresponsible Savills hierarchy." Over to Savills, which says it is not interested in acquiring Hunt's agency. A spokesman tells City Spy: "Foxtons simply would not fit into the Savills group."

* IN a rallying cry to employees still tarnished by allegations of sharp practice in a BBC documentary, Hunt boasts: "Foxtons has turned what is the traditional estate agency model on its head. We've taken a haphazard, gung-ho, sales-driven industry model and turned it into a proper professional business. We now have enormous potential to expand across London and the Home Counties and, if we wish, elsewhere in the world - as a consequence we will always attract a great deal of attention, wanted or unwanted." So that's OK then. …

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