UPDATE 1-Property agent Foxtons confirms talks to buy rival Douglas & Gordon, shares fall

(Adds details from statement, background)

Feb 22 (Reuters) - UK property agency Foxtons confirmed on Monday it was in talks for a potential deal to buy rival agent Douglas & Gordon as it looks to expand its reach and clientele.

Shares of the company, which last year tapped markets for additional cash and furloughed employees, fell as much as 18% after it also said any final deal would be funded through existing cash.

Britain’s estate agents were severely strapped for cash amid the COVID-19 pandemic as property viewings were halted and offices closed. Uncertainty lingers over the industry with the resurgence of cases due to new coronavirus variants and staggered vaccine rollouts.

Rival Countrywide in December agreed to Connells’ sweetened buyout proposal after struggling for many years as Brexit and the health crisis added to pressure from a botched restructuring in 2015.

Foxton’s did not provide any further details on the deal talks, which were earlier reported by Sky News.

Douglas & Gordon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni