for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

UPDATE 3-UK's Countrywide to evaluate sweetened bid from property firm Connells

* Connells raises bid for Countrywide by 30%

* Countrywide to evaluate new offer

* Countrywide shares jump 18.6% (Adds Alchemy’s statement)

Dec 7 (Reuters) - Real estate management firm Connells Ltd raised its takeover bid for Countrywide by 30%, prompting the UK-listed company to say it was evaluating it along with revised proposals from private equity firm Alchemy.

Countrywide, which rejected Connells’ initial approach last month, has been struggling to recover from a botched 2015 restructuring that led to many profit warnings and a deeply discounted share issue.

The increased offer, which values Countrywide at 325 pence per share or 164.4 million pounds, is 30% higher than the previous proposal of 250 pence per share, spurring a near 19% jump in share price in morning trade.

“Countrywide desperately needs a deliverable solution to its current financial problems and lack of strategic direction,” Connells Chief Executive Officer David Livesey said.

Countrywide’s share price has more than doubled in value since the news of Connells’ approach in November.

Countrywide said it would evaluate the Connells offer in consultation with its major shareholders along with “all other available options” including the revised proposal from Alchemy and a capital raise from existing shareholders.

That followed an announcement in Countrywide last month naming former William Hill chief Philip Bowcock as its new CEO to lead talks on a new rescue deal, after shareholders rejected the initial offer from Alchemy.

Alchemy said on Monday it was considering options regarding its proposal for Countrywide and urged its shareholders to take no action in relation to the Connells offer.

Alchemy’s earlier offer included an option for existing investors to sell their Countrywide shares at 250 pence per share to be fully funded by Alchemy and a 70-million-pound recapitalisation plan.

In addition to its earlier woes, Countrywide was hit hard this year by the COVID-19 pandemic which initially battered property sales. The British government then introduced an emergency tax cut for buyers, prompting a strong market revival. ($1 = 0.7478 pounds)

Reporting by Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Gareth Jones

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up