7 Aug 2017
Both Connells – owners of Gascoigne Halman – and Agents’ Mutual have stayed silent on possible ongoing litigation over the ‘one other portal’ rule.
Meanwhile, significant question marks have been raised about leaks of Friday’s announcement that Agents’ Mutual would seek a stock market listing.
The bitter ‘one other portal’ case was won by Agents’ Mutual in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, but Connells’ brand Gasgoigne Halman said it would appeal.
Despite its victory in that hard-won case, on Friday Agents’ Mutual said it would be dropping the ‘one other portal’ rule.
It is not clear whether ongoing litigation could affect Agents’ Mutual’s plans to launch on the stock market.
As an independent, Gascoigne Halman was an early supporter of OnTheMarket before its acquisition by Connells Group, a shareholder in ZPG (Zoopla).
Agents’ Mutual, now due to seek a listing on the AIM junior market, announced on Friday that it will now drop the ‘one other portal rule’.
When asked about the Tribunal’s recent ruling – which not only upheld the ‘one other portal’ rule but said it was actually competitive – Agents’ Mutual said it could not comment on a likely appeal, saying there was nothing in the public domain.
Connells, also invited by EYE to give an update, declined to say anything.
Meanwhile, questions are emerging as to how Agents’ Mutual’s news appears to have been leaked before the official announcement on Friday morning at 7am.
Sky News seemed to know full details of Agents’ Mutual’s statement to the Stock Exchange hours before it was issued.
Strict rules surround the protocol around Regulatory News Statements (RNS) which are generally made at or just after 7am.
Agents’ Mutual’s announcement about its plans to float on AIM was made at 7am on Friday.
EYE then carried the story.
While we did do a previous overnight news story on Thursday/ Friday, this was purely based on the remarkably knowing Sky News report.
We ourselves had no knowledge, let alone details, of the following morning’s announcement.
The Sky News report also followed an opinion piece on Thursday afternoon in “the other pub” by Simon Shinerock, of Estate Agent Today. This suggested that Agents’ Mutual would be changing its name.
Shinerock subsequently said that he had simply made predictions which proved accurate. There is of course no reason to doubt this.
However, EYE’s own posters queried if there were apparent leaks, and how these came about.
One called for an inquiry – in light of the fact that the London Stock Exchange is so very tight on its rules.
The majority of journalists, when given a scoop, would report the news. However they would only be given that sort of news if there were a leak.
Separately, London Evening Standard writer Russell Lynch poured ice-cold water on Agents’ Mutual’s plans to launch on the stock market.
Lynch wrote: “Would you buy shares in something that lagged a distant third behind two competitors and had never made any money?
“That’s the unappetising prospect on offer from Agents’ Mutual, which is floating its OnTheMarket property portal on AIM with hopes of raising £50 million.”
He concluded by asking: “Why not keep your cash in the divi-paying, profitable market leader (Rightmove) or diversified divi-paying rival (Zoopla)? This float looks like a dog with fleas.”
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