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Countrywide Tumbles as Shareholders Sell Stakes in Company

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Countrywide Plc, the U.K.’s largest real estate agent, dropped to the lowest level in three months after Alchemy Partners LLP and another investor sold their stakes in the company.

Alchemy, a London-based private-equity firm, sold about 12.9 million shares, or 5.9 percent, and an undisclosed institutional investor sold about 5.3 million shares, or 2.4 percent at 525 pence apiece, according to the terms obtained by Bloomberg News earlier today. A spokesman for Alchemy declined to comment.

The stock dropped as much as 7.3 percent and was down 4.9 percent to 518 pence at the close of trading in London today, the lowest level since June 28 and the biggest drop since the shares started trading on March 20. The shares are still up 48 percent since their first day of trading.

Countrywide received a 75 million-pound ($121 million) investment from a group of creditors including Alchemy and Oaktree Capital Management LLC in February after Britain endured the worst residential and commercial property slump in three decades. The creditors gained a 60 percent equity stake and cut London-based Countrywide’s debt to 175 million pounds.

Private-equity firms Oaktree and Apollo Management LLP remain Countrywide’s largest shareholders with a 27.6 percent and 10.9 percent stake respectively. Neither firm can sell shares until Nov. 13, the terms sheet shows. Jefferies Group LLC managed the share sale on behalf of the investors today.

Oaktree and Apollo last month sold 35 million shares in Countrywide at 570 pence, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Jones in London at sjones35@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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