An agent is launching a “Vote No” campaign aimed at persuading fellow members of OnTheMarket to vote against a flotation, and put aside their own financial interests in gaining shares.
He is also calling for much more discussion among agents about the issues involved, including mutuality, the proposed dropping of the one other portal rule, and the seeking of investment capital via AIM.
Graeme Lumsden is a Gold member agent and says he has been a passionate supporter of OTM from day one.
However, he says that the proposed float looks like an exit strategy and not a new beginning. He is also concerned that allowing online agents another platform post-float has implications for the entire future of the industry.
He says: “Members need to action a pause and collectively agree the best way forward with less focus on personal potential share value gain and more focus on our industry gain.
“I make no apologies for my NO vote.”
In an email flyer being sent round to OTM members, the veteran agent, with 30 years in the industry, makes clear that his views are personal.
He says that at the roadshow he attended, he questioned the amount of detail provided about the financial benefits to members of a float – yet, he claims there was “distinctly less detail” on “post Agents’ Mutual estate agency member-only mutual ownership”.
He goes on to express “very real concerns at the sheer level of financial reward” due to be reaped by Springett and the board.
Lumsden also expresses concern as to what he calls the “unknown element” – the influence of the new investors if a successful IPO is achieved.
He says in the leaflet that OTM has failed to deliver and that its performance to date has been “lacklustre”.
However, he says that a float will not be a magic bullet, saying: “Sorry Ian, I and it appears many other members want to retain our founding mutual member status [and] explore a re-direction of OTM/AM.”
He says that members are being asked to vote on the IPO proposals with “lack of real detail/strategy as to how our industry moves forward . . . I have the distinct impression that this process appears much more of an exit strategy than a new beginning for OnTheMarket.”
He continues: “Many agree that Rightmove is suffocating our industry, yet they are basically an online advertising portal. However, they now appear to dictate how our industry is promoted and in some aspects run.”
He goes on: “I would ask all members voting to balance any potential share returns versus the opportunity to have a real involvement in a relaunch of our UK property industry.”
Lumsden says agents who vote yes are being “offered the lure of member shares/financial benefits post-flotation”.
Calling for members to make their vote count, he says: “I would ask all members voting to balance any potential share returns versus the opportunity to have a real involvement in a relaunch of our UK property industry.”
He concludes: “Whether we tackle the shortcomings of OnTheMarket, the unchallenged dominance of Rightmove, or the convenient confusion created by online property listers claiming to be estate agents – whatever we choose to do, we need to action it rather than talk endlessly about what we are going to do – yet never actually do it.”
Lumsden can be contacted by email at email@example.com
The campaign’s website is at: http://theestateagencyindustry.co.uk/
- As EYE has already reported, Springett would pick up almost £20m worth of shares if the float is successful and the 4m (in round figures) shares allocated were valued at £5.
- Key members of the management team would get 4.8m shares as part of an incentive plan.
- Additionally, the board members, excluding NAEA boss Mark Hayward, would pick up just over 3.1m shares between them.
- The documentation says it expects shares to be £4 to £5, and that OnTheMarket is likely to achieve a valuation of between £200m and £250m.