One of the biggest groups of estate agents, Countrywide was taken private last year in a £1 billion deal backed by the American private-equity investor Apollo. Its subsidiaries range from national brands such as Bairstow Eves to smaller operators that target particular market segments. It also has units involved in property auctions and mortgage finance. The group says it is responding to fears over the housing market’s direction by beefing up its rental and property maintenance businesses. Management, led by chief executive Grenville Turner, hopes this will lessen the impact of further drops in house sales and prices. Sales were £633m in 2007.
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